Roche, ImmunoGen's T-DM1 boosts cancer survival

Trastuzumab emtansine (T-DM1) slashed the risk of death by almost a third compared with standard treatment in the EMILIA Phase III trial in women with advanced breast cancer. Trastuzumab emtansine is an antibody-drug conjugate that uses ImmunoGen's ($IMGN) Targeted Antibody Payload (TAP) technology. The drug is in development worldwide with Roche ($RHHBY) as part of an agreement between ImmunoGen and Genentech, part of the Roche Group.

The trial, known as EMILIA, recruited women with metastatic HER2-positive breast cancer who have previously received trastuzumab (Herceptin) and a taxane, and the results were presented at the ESMO 2012 Congress (European Society of Medical Oncology). Women were given either trastuzumab emtansine or the combination of lapatinib (Tykerb) and capecitabine (Xeloda), which is standard-of-care.

The women treated with trastuzumab emtansine has a 32% reduction in their risk of death compared with those who had the standard-of-care treatment, surviving for almost 6 months longer.

Genentech and Roche have submitted T-DM1 for approval in the U.S. and Europe, respectively. Roche is also running Phase III trials for trastuzumab emtansine in newly diagnosed and for previously treated metastatic disease in women with HER2-positive breast cancer, and plans to start trials in early-stage disease next year. The drug may also have potential in advanced, relapsed HER2-positive gastric cancer.

- read the press release