Genentech Jumps on Herceptin News

Two phase III trials show positive results for treatment of breast cancer.
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shares jumped Tuesday after the company announced positive interim results for its drug Herceptin in the treatment of breast cancer.

Genentech shares were recently up $4.53, or 6.5%, to $73.96.

Two phase III trials showed improved disease-free survival when the cancer drug Herceptin was combined with chemotherapy, compared to the use of chemotherapy alone. The trial involved women who received initial treatment for early-stage breast cancer that had not traveled beyond the breast.

The studies were sponsored by the National Cancer Institute, part of the National Institutes of Health, and led by the National Surgical Adjuvant Breast and Bowel Project (NSABP) and the North Central Cancer Treatment Group (NCCTG), after consulting with the Food and Drug Administration.

The NSABP study involving 2,085 patients began in March 2000. The NCCTG study involving 3,406 patients began in June 2000. The interim analysis was based on information from 3,300 patients who received a combination of anthracycline and cyclophosphamide followed by paclitaxel, with or without Herceptin. The groups plan to present the trial results at the American Society of Clinical Oncology annual meeting, May 13-17.

"The data from these very important Phase III trials suggest for the first time that a therapy that targets women whose tumors have a specific genetic mutation has the potential to reduce the recurrence of disease in early-stage breast cancer patients," said Dr. Susan Desmond-Hellmann, Genentech's president of product development.