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A Surprise

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Novartis' kidney cancer drug Afinitor has been shown to prevent the progression of breast cancer in a new study, reports Bloomberg's Simeon Bennett. The trial showed that Afinitor more than doubled, to 6.9 months, the time to progression in women whose breast tumors had spread after treatment, compared to 2.8 months in women who took Pfizer's breast cancer drug Aromasin, Bennett says. The trial, which Novartis plans to use in applying for regulatory approval for a breast cancer indication for Afinitor, was presented at a cancer conference in Stockholm this week. Analysts say that European regulators are likely to approve the new indication based on the study's results, though the FDA may want to see longer-term breast cancer data before approval. "Afinitor, which is already approved in the US as a treatment for cancers of the kidney and pancreas, as well as non-cancerous brain tumors, blocks a protein called mTOR that some cancer cells require to grow and multiply," Bennett says. "Novartis is also testing the drug in patients with other types of breast cancer, as well as lymphoma and stomach and liver cancer."

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