The British Pharmacological Society’s (BPS) drug discovery of the year award celebrates the importance of pharmacology in the development of new medicines. Every year, the BPS receives a large number of high quality applications for Drug Discovery of the Year, making it one of the most prestigious awards in the field of innovative medicines.
Roche’s leukemia medicine, Gazyvaro (obinutuzumab) has been declared the 2015 Drug Discovery of the Year.
Gazyvaro is the first in a new class of antibody drugs that treats chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) in patients who also have other medical conditions that make them ineligible for treatment based on a medicine called fludarabine.
The active substance in Gazyvaro, obinutuzumab (a monoclonal antibody) recognizes and attaches to the protein CD20, which is found on the surface of all B-lymphocytes. Obinutuzumab, once attached, ensures the death of the abnormal lymphocytes. In addition to this, treatment with Gazyvaro alerts the body’s immune system to ‘enemy’ cancer cells, thereby allowing immune cells to attack and destroy cancerous cells more effectively than other treatments such as MabThera (rituximab).
Gazyvaro’s superiority over MabThera (rituximab) was also established in the pivotal CLL11 clinical study that showed Gazyvaro, plus chlorambucil, significantly reduced the risk of disease worsening or death by 61% compared to MabThera (rituximab). Gazyvaro plus chlorambucil also increased the time people with previously untreated CLL lived (known as overall survival, or OS) compared to those who received treatment with chlorambucil alone.
Taking into account the fact that CLL is the most common leukemia in Europe, and each year is responsible for around 20,000 new cases and 13,000 deaths across Europe; the discovery of Gazyvaro certainly brings new hope in the treatment of blood cancers.
Barbara Jacoby is an award winning blogger that has contributed her writings to multiple online publications that have touched readers worldwide.