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New type of immunotherapy from Roche UK boosts survival in most common lung cancer

Data presented at the European Society of Medical Oncology (ESMO) congress during the Presidential Symposium, show that atezolizumab can extend the lives of people with advanced NSCLC to a median of 13.8 months; 4.2 months longer than those treated with current standard of care, docetaxel chemotherapy (median overall survival: 13.8 months atezolizumab v. 9.6 months docetaxel [HR=0.73, 95% CI: 0.62-0.87; p=0.0003]), regardless of their levels of programmed death-ligand 1 (PD-L1).1 

The OAK study evaluated patients with NSCLC (with and without PD-L1 expression) whose disease had progressed during or after treatment with one or more platinum-based chemotherapy (second-line and third-line).1

Richard Erwin, General Manager, Roche UK said: “Curing cancer is the biggest goal of our generation. To do this requires an intersection of innovative medicines, clever combinations, new technologies and knowledge sharing. We’re really excited about the potential of atezolizumab, as shown by these data. Our comprehensive cancer immunotherapy research programme aims to build on atezolizumab’s power and reach – providing opportunities to tackle cancers in different ways, more powerfully and in more patients. Future access to important medicines like this is our priority and we will continue to work with regulators to support access.”

Atezolizumab is a monoclonal antibody that blocks PD-L1 which plays a key role in activating or deactivating the immune system2 Expression of PD-L1 throws an invisibility cloak over cancer cells by interacting with and disabling immune cells, thereby disguising the cancer cells from detection by the immune system3 Blockade of PD-L1 allows the immune system to recognise and kill the cancer cells3. In trials, atezolizumab has been shown to be well tolerated with fewer and more manageable side effects than existing chemotherapy treatments.4 The data show it is effective in all patients, no matter their level of PD-L1 expression meaning it could provide an option for even more people

In Europe, a regulatory submission is currently under review with the European Medicines Agency (EMA) for people with locally advanced or metastatic NSCLC who had disease progression on or after platinum-based chemotherapy, regardless of PD-L1 expression.


1 Data from OAK study presented in the Presidential Symposium in a presentation on Sunday, 9 October, 16:25 Central European Time (CET). Title: Primary analysis from OAK, a randomised phase III study comparing atezolizumab with docetaxel in 2L/3L NSCLC.

2 National Cancer Institute. Definition of atezolizumab.  Available from: [Last accessed October 2016]

3 Munir S, Holmen G et al. (2013) The immune checkpoint regulator PD-L1 is a specific target for naturally occurring CD4+ T cells. Oncoimmunology. Available from:  [Last accessed October 2016]