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ASCO Meeting Day 2: 'Promising' Results From JNJ's Imbruvica & Targeted Therapy

The 2014 Annual Meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) just wrapped up in Chicago, Illinois with meetings and presentations from May 30 to June 3.

At this year's 50th Annual Meeting, more than 25,000 cancer specialists gathered to discuss research on the theme of "Science and Society."

On Saturday, research on "promising" results for patients with chronic lymphotic leukemia, lung cancer, ovarian cancer and thyroid cancer was presented.

Patients See "Promising" Results From JNJ's Imbruvica

The most common type of leukemia in adults, chronic lymphotic leukemia (CLL), is most often treated by a combination of chemotherapy and Biogen Idec's (NASDAQ: BIIB) rituximab (Rituxan). However other treatements are available, and research presented at ASCO addressed two of them.

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For older and less healthy patients, early results showed that Johnson & Johnson's (NYSE: JNJ) ibrutinib (Imbruvica) kept relapsed CLL from worsening for longer than GlaxoSmithKline's (NYSE: GSK) ofatumumab (Arzerra) did.

In a study treating 391 patients, individuals either received ofatumumab or ibrutinib. After nine months, 42 percent of patients who received ibrutinib had their disease improve versus the 4 percent who received ofatumumab.

Promising Targeted Therapy

In aiming to increase the life of cancer patients, a new study presented at the conference showed that targeted therapy of Eli Lilly's (NYSE: LLY) ramucirumab (Cyramza) along with standard chemotherapy can lengthen the lives of patients with non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC).

Dr. Maurice Pérol, MD, Head of Thoracic Oncology at Cancer Research Center of Lyon in France, commented, "This is the first treatment in approximately a decade to improve the outcomes for patients in the second-line setting. The survival improvement is significant because patients with advanced NSCLC typically have a very short survival time following second-line therapy."

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A combination of targeted therapies for treating recurrent ovarian cancer has also proved effective. Researchers found that the specific combination of AstraZeneca's (NYSE: AZN) olaparib and cediranib (Recentin) kept recurrent ovarian cancer from worsening for almost nine months longer than treatment with solely olaparib.

80 percent of the women who received the combined treatment saw tumors shrink and saw the cancer worsen after 18 months. Only 48 percent of women just receiving olaparib saw tumors shrink and saw the cancer worsen after only nine months.

A new study presented at the conference showed that Eisai's lenvatinib could be an effective treatment for patients with differentiated thyroid cancer that is resistant to standard radioiodine (RAI) therapy. Even though 79 percent of patients needed to have their doses reduced due to side effects, researchers found that the lower doses were still effective.

Lenvatinib is also being researched to treat kidney, liver, lung and other cancers.

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