LONDON, March 14 (Reuters) - AstraZeneca's ovarian cancer drug Lynparza slowed disease progression sharply in a closely watched clinical trial, boosting hopes for a product that belongs to a novel drug class called PARP inhibitors.
The British drugmaker hopes the data from the SOLO-2 trial will widen the use of Lynparza and help it keep up with competitors racing to broaden the use of PARP medicines.
Women with recurrent ovarian cancer and defective BRCA genes lived a median 19.1 months without their disease worsening when given Lynparza, against 5.5 months for those on placebo, based on disease progression assessments carried out by investigators.
When disease progression was measured by central, blinded review, however, the figure rose to 30.2 months, according to data presented at the Society of Gynecologic Oncology annual meeting on Tuesday.
Lynparza and other PARP inhibitors block enzymes involved in repairing damaged DNA, thereby helping to kill cancer cells.
AstraZeneca's drug became the first of the new class to reach the market when it won U.S. approval at the end of 2014, but it is currently only recommended for fourth-line use. The latest clinical trial is designed to move it up to second-line maintenance therapy.
Others with PARP inhibitors include the biotech companies Clovis, whose drug Rubraca won U.S. approval in December, and Tesaro, which is awaiting a green light for niraparib.
(Reporting by Ben Hirschler; editing by David Clarke)