#ASCO17 need-to-know, all right here: Roche, BMS, Merck, Legend and more

asco 17 marquee 800x600
ASCO's annual meeting runs until Tuesday in Chicago.

At ASCO's annual meeting, it's tough to sift through all the data oncology drugmakers are piling up, so we've done it for you. Here are the nuggets we found. Click through to learn more from our editors who covered the meeting on the ground and from afar.

Since Roche announced back in March that adding Perjeta to blockbuster Herceptin staved off postsurgery breast cancer progression in early-stage patients, the question has been “By how much?” It turns out the answer is “not a lot.” Three years after breast cancer surgery, 94.1% of patients treated with both Perjeta and Herceptin hadn’t developed an invasive form of the HER2-positive disease, just shy of 1 percentage point higher than the 93.2% of women who took Herceptin only. Story

China’s Nanjing Legend Biotech posted data showing its CAR-T candidate could be a safe and effective way to treat relapsed or refractory multiple myeloma. In an ongoing early-phase clinical trial in China, 94% of patients whose multiple myeloma had relapsed on other treatments experienced clinical remission within two months of receiving Legend’s experimental anti-BCMA CAR-T cell product, dubbed LCAR-B38M. Investigators reported an objective response rate of 100%. FierceBiotech story

Bristol-Myers Squibb reported that a combo of its PD-1 drug Opdivo and CTLA4 med Yervoy slowed mesothelioma progression more than Opdivo alone. Twelve weeks after treatment, 44% of patients with relapsed malignant pleural mesothelioma experienced no disease progression, compared with 50% for the combo. Story

A combo of Merck’s PD-1 med Keytruda and Incyte’s IDO1 enzyme inhibitor epacadostat trounced Keytruda alone at overall response rate in second-line non-small cell lung cancer. The combo posted an ORR of 35% at 6 months, about twice as high as Keytruda’s ORR as a monotherapy. Two patients converted from partial responses to complete responses, which Leerink analysts said "incrementally strengthens [the] IDO1 thesis." FierceBiotech story

After two previous late-stage failures, Pfizer’s TKI inhibitor dacomitinib topped AstraZeneca’s Iressa in delaying EGFR-positive lung cancer in newly diagnosed patients, slashing the risk of progression or death by 41%. The med previously failed to top Roche’s Tarceva in two late-stage trials. Story

Eisai is looking to challenge Bayer in first-line liver cancer. In a noninferiority study against Nexavar in inoperable hepatocellular carcinoma, Eisai reported that Lenvima posted a 13.6-month overall survival benefit, compared with 12.3 months for the Bayer drug. The Japanese drugmaker’s med doubled median progression-free survival time at 7.4 months, compared with Nexavar’s 3.7 months. Story

In first-line ALK-positive lung cancer, Roche’s Alecensa posted data showing it could beat Pfizer’s Xalkori at cutting down the risk of disease worsening or death by more than 53%. Both drugs are targeted at lung tumors with an ALK gene rearrangement; Alecensa also led when it came to preventing brain metastases, which are more common among ALK-positive patients because it’s “such an aggressive tumor,” Dietmar Berger, Roche’s global head of clinical development in hematology and oncology, said in an interview. Story

In data that could lead to a new indication, Johnson & Johnson reported that prostate cancer med Zytiga, in combo with prednisone and androgen deprivation therapy, beat out an ADT-plus-placebo duo at improving survival among patients with high-risk metastatic hormone-naïve prostate cancer. The med “offers a new paradigm to patients to be treated at an earlier stage, with a very significant effect on their survival,” Peter De Porre, global clinical leader for J&J’s Janssen, said in an interview. Story

AstraZeneca’s PARP inhibitor Lynparza reduced the risk of breast cancer worsening or death by 42% in a phase 3 study. Tumors shrank in about 60% of patients treated with Lynparza, versus just 29% of those in the chemo arm. Notably, in difficult-to-treat triple-negative breast cancer, Lynparza proved “effective,” according to the study's lead author, Mark Robson. Story

Eyeing one of the biggest targets in the pharma industry, Celltrion reported that its biosim to Roche’s Herceptin matched up against the blockbuster brand in HER2-positive early breast cancer. Celltrion and partner Teva trail partners Mylan and Biocon, which have submitted a biosim application to the FDA and are awaiting a Sept. 3 action date. Story

Loxo Oncology posted new data for its experimental larotrectinib, a biomarker-specific medication the company hopes will treat an array of cancers in nearly a dozen sites across the body. In data drawn from three early-stage studies, 50 larotrectinib patients with tumors harboring tropomyosin receptor kinase fusions had a 76% objective response rate across tumor types. Loxo hopes to submit for FDA approval later this year or early next. FierceBiotech story

Looking to educate docs on yet-to-be-approved CAR-T meds, Kite Pharma set up posters throughout Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport and around the ASCO conference. Titled "Meet Joe," the signage features an average guy with cancer and introduces CAR-T as a technology that "can enable Joe’s T cells to recognize and attack cancer cells.” FiercePharmaMarketing story

Healthcare and electronics giant Philips entered a research agreement for pancreatic cancer precision diagnostics with Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center and a separate collaboration with Illumina and Navican to widen access to precision medicine. FierceMedTech story

IBM introduced new data showing its Watson supercomputer agreed with doctors on a treatment course for a range of cancers up to 96% of the time. FierceMedTech story

Dendreon rolled out new data showing its prostate cancer vaccine Provenge generates a killer T-cell response and that the strength of that response correlates with overall survival. President Jim Caggiano said the company will use the findings to educate physicians and will share them with any skeptics who aren’t yet convinced of Provenge’s ability to help patients. Story