2022-10-24| Trials & Approvals

AstraZeneca’s Liver Cancer Treatment Combination Snatches FDA Approval

by Max Heirich
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The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) granted approval to AstraZeneca’s Imjudo (tremelimumab) in combination with Imfinzi (durvalumab) for the treatment of unresectable hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). The HIMALAYA phase 3 trial proved the efficacy of the combined treatment for liver cancer and formed the basis of the FDA’s approval. 

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A New Treatment for Liver Cancer

HCC is the most common form of liver cancer, occurring most often in patients with chronic liver diseases such as cirrhosis, which accounts for 80%-90% of those affected. Like a lot of cancers, treatments for HCC include surgeries, immunotherapy, and targeted therapies. 

AstraZeneca’s new treatments fall into the latter category as they make sure of the common target marker, the protein PD-L1. Imfinzi makes use of this receptor found on cancer cells, binding with it and preventing interaction with the PD-1 and CD80 proteins. As a result, the tumor’s immune evasion is negated. 

For HCC, Imfinzi works in conjunction with Imjudo, a monoclonal antibody. Imjudo targets and blocks the activity of CTLA-4, resulting in the activation of a T-cell against cancer. 

The HIMALAYA phase 3 trial evaluated the efficacy of Imfinzi and Imjudo for the treatment of HCC. The results, published in the New England Journal of Medicine Evidence, showed that 31% of liver cancer patients treated with AstraZeneca’s drug combo were still alive after three years. Due to the study’s findings, the FDA granted AstraZeneca’s treatments approval on October 24. 

On the approval, Andrea Wilson Woods, President & Founder of Blue Faery: The Adrienne Wilson Liver Cancer Foundation, said, “In the past, patients living with liver cancer had few treatment options and faced poor prognoses. With today’s approval, we are grateful and optimistic for new, innovative, therapeutic options. These new treatments can improve long-term survival for those living with unresectable hepatocellular carcinoma, the most common form of liver cancer.”

Though Imfinzi is approved around the world for a number of different cancers, including small lung and bladder cancers, Imjudo is still under review by global regulatory authorities. However, this approval will likely lend a feather in the cap of the drug going forward. 

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