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Europe backs nuclear medicine for cancer that killed Steve Jobs
July 21, 2017 / 11:40 AM / 4 months ago

Europe backs nuclear medicine for cancer that killed Steve Jobs

LONDON, July 21 (Reuters) - A nuclear medicine targeting the type of cancer that killed Steve Jobs won a green light from EU regulators on Friday, boosting prospects for its developer Advanced Accelerator Applications.

The European Medicines Agency said its Committee for Medicinal Products for Human Use (CHMP) had recommended the product, Lutathera, in a move setting the stage for full approval within a couple of months.

The French biotech company has described the new drug as a “multi-hundred million” dollar opportunity, with the potential to transform its fortunes.

AAA, which was spun off from Europe’s physics research centre CERN 15 years ago and is listed on Nasdaq, had sales from existing diagnostic products of $34.9 million in the first quarter of 2017.

Lutathera is unusual in harnessing the same molecule that is already used to diagnose cancer to also deliver treatment.

The radiopharmaceutical works by hitting cancer cells with high energy electrons, just like radiotherapy, but the injection targets gastroenteropancreatic neuroendocrine tumours (NETs) that over-express a certain protein.

It has shown impressive results in clinical tests against a disease associated with very poor survival, and one that killed Apple co-founder Jobs in 2011.

The path to market, however, has not been easy for the drugmaker, due to technical problems with the drug’s filing at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and a slower than initially hoped approval timetable in Europe.

In a Phase III clinical trial, results of which were reported in the New England Journal of Medicine in January, Lutathera reduced the risk of disease progression compared to standard care by 80 percent.

That compares favourably with existing NETs drugs such as Novartis’ Afinitor and Pfizer’s Sutent. (Reporting by Ben Hirschler)

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