Novartis bone marrow cancer drug meets goal in late-stage study


ZURICH, Dec 6 (Reuters) - An experimental drug from Novartis to treat a type of bone marrow cancer met its primarygoal in a late-stage study, the Swiss drugmaker said on Friday.

A Phase III trial found the drug, dubbed LBH589 whencombined with bortezomib and dexamethasone, significantlyextended progression-free survival in patients with relapsed orrelapsed and refractory multiple myeloma compared to bortezomiband dexamethasone alone.

Multiple myeloma is a cancer that starts in plasma cells inbone marrow and disrupts the production of normal blood cells.It affects approximately 1 to 5 in every 100,000 peopleworldwide each year and typically occurs in those aged over 50.

Novartis said the drug has the potential to become one ofthe first in a new class of treatments for the incurabledisease.

"Given its mechanism of action, LBH589 has the potential tobe an important treatment option for multiple myeloma," saidNovartis Global Head of Oncology Alessandro Riva.

LBH589 works by blocking a key cancer cell enzyme whichcauses cell stress and leads to death of these cells. Fullresults of the data will be presented at an upcoming meeting,Novartis said.

German Biotech company MorphoSys and Celgene are also working on treatments for multiple myeloma.

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