Combination of Afinitor® and Aromasin can buy you more time before the breast cancer situation worsens.

A study on 724 women showed that when Afinitor®, a kidney cancer drug of Novartis, and Pfizer Inc.'s Aromasin were given to patients, the drugs doubled the progression-free survival (PFS) time compared to those who only got Pfizer Inc. (PFE)'s Aromasin, a hormonal medicine prescribed to women with advanced breast cancer situation.

The results were presented at the 2011 European Multidisciplinary Cancer Congress in Stockholm, Sweden.

According Jose Baselga, a Harvard Medical School professor and chief of hematology and oncology at Massachusetts General Hospital and the study-lead, this could be game-changing. I don't recall a study in this patient population that had this magnitude of an effect. It's pretty exciting.

Afinitor®: The New Savior?

Novartis AG's Afinitor® (everolimus) is a medicine that prevents the growth and spread of cancer cells in the patient's body. Until now, the drug was known as a treatment for kidney and pancreas cancer as well as non-cancerous brain tumors.

The drug is already approved in the U.S.

Phase III of the BOLERO-2 (Breast cancer trials of OraL EveROlimus-2) showed that Afinitor® and Aromasin more than doubled the time patients lived without tumor growth and combination of the drug decreased the risk of cancer progression by 57 per cent in patients with advanced breast cancer.

724 women from 24 countries, whose advanced breast cancer situation was no longer controlled by the hormone therapy alone, took part in the trial process. Patients who received Afinitor had a median delay of 6.9 months before their cancer symptoms recurred but women who were only on Aromasin medication, had a delay of only 2.8 months, the study showed.

Researchers stopped the trial before schedule as they met the primary goal earlier than expected.

After its success in slowing down breast cancer recurrence, Novartis is also testing the drug in patients with leukemia, lymphoma and stomach and liver cancer.

A Switzerland-based medical company is already bidding for regulatory approval to sell Afinitor as a breast cancer treatment, Herve Hoppenot, president of the company's cancer division, said in an interview in Stockholm.

We are very optimistic about this program, he said. It can become a very significant part of our portfolio over the next four, five years.

Researchers  plan to further test Afinitor® on women in the early stages of breast cancer.