PRESS RELEASE: MabThera Improves Response in Patients With Most Common Form of Adult Leukaemia

MabThera Improves Response in Patients With Most Common Form of Adult Leukaemia

BASEL, Switzerland, December 11 --

- Higher Response Rates Seen in Untreated and Relapsed CLL Patients

Early results from two phase II trials tracking the outcome of patients with chronic lymphocytic leukaemia (CLL) who were treated with the innovative cancer therapy MabThera (rituximab) have revealed very promising results. The study outcomes, presented at the 49th Annual Meeting of the American Society of Hematology in Atlanta, come from the first prospective trials demonstrating the efficacy of MabThera in CLL patients and highlight the impact MabThera is having on CLL, a disease in which there has not been a significant treatment advance in nearly a decade.

In the first trial(1), 92% patients with previously untreated CLL achieved a response to treatment when treated with MabThera in combination with chemotherapy. This improvement confirms similar results from earlier studies. The study, which is run by the Spanish Group for CLL (GELLC), is also investigating the impact of MabThera maintenance therapy in CLL patients, as all responding patients in the induction phase will also receive MabThera maintenance therapy. Further results from the second part of the study are expected in 2008.

The second trial(2), conducted by the UK CLL study group, focused on patients with relapsed CLL and demonstrated a better response for patients treated with MabThera in combination with chemotherapy than with chemotherapy alone, 70% to 57%.

"The results from both trials demonstrate the encouraging potential benefits MabThera, in combination with chemotherapy, can provide to patients with CLL," commented Prof. Emili Montserrat, from the Department of Hematology, University of Barcelona, Spain. "These early results seem to signify that the addition of MabThera to treatment is critical to improving outcomes in CLL patients, where there is currently a high unmet medical need."

Chronic Lymphocytic Leukaemia (CLL) is the most common type of leukaemia in adults, accounting for approximately 25-30% of all leukaemias. Incidence of CLL in Western countries is around 2-4 per 100,000 and is twice as common in men as in women. It mainly affects the elderly with 95% of patients diagnosed after the age of 55. While CLL is generally considered an indolent disease, meaning that it is slow to progress, a significant proportion of patients have rapidly progressing forms of the disease.

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