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Concept: Hoffmann–La Roche


Background An evolving understanding of the immunopathogenesis of multiple sclerosis suggests that depleting B cells could be useful for treatment. We studied ocrelizumab, a humanized monoclonal antibody that selectively depletes CD20-expressing B cells, in the primary progressive form of the disease. Methods In this phase 3 trial, we randomly assigned 732 patients with primary progressive multiple sclerosis in a 2:1 ratio to receive intravenous ocrelizumab (600 mg) or placebo every 24 weeks for at least 120 weeks and until a prespecified number of confirmed disability progression events had occurred. The primary end point was the percentage of patients with disability progression confirmed at 12 weeks in a time-to-event analysis. Results The percentage of patients with 12-week confirmed disability progression was 32.9% with ocrelizumab versus 39.3% with placebo (hazard ratio, 0.76; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.59 to 0.98; P=0.03). The percentage of patients with 24-week confirmed disability progression was 29.6% with ocrelizumab versus 35.7% with placebo (hazard ratio, 0.75; 95% CI, 0.58 to 0.98; P=0.04). By week 120, performance on the timed 25-foot walk worsened by 38.9% with ocrelizumab versus 55.1% with placebo (P=0.04); the total volume of brain lesions on T2-weighted magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) decreased by 3.4% with ocrelizumab and increased by 7.4% with placebo (P<0.001); and the percentage of brain-volume loss was 0.90% with ocrelizumab versus 1.09% with placebo (P=0.02). There was no significant difference in the change in the Physical Component Summary score of the 36-Item Short-Form Health Survey. Infusion-related reactions, upper respiratory tract infections, and oral herpes infections were more frequent with ocrelizumab than with placebo. Neoplasms occurred in 2.3% of patients who received ocrelizumab and in 0.8% of patients who received placebo; there was no clinically significant difference between groups in the rates of serious adverse events and serious infections. Conclusions Among patients with primary progressive multiple sclerosis, ocrelizumab was associated with lower rates of clinical and MRI progression than placebo. Extended observation is required to determine the long-term safety and efficacy of ocrelizumab. (Funded by F. Hoffmann-La Roche; ORATORIO number, NCT01194570 .).

Concepts: Clinical trial, Monoclonal antibodies, Magnetic resonance imaging, Multiple sclerosis, Respiratory system, Upper respiratory tract, Upper respiratory tract infection, Hoffmann–La Roche


Background Emicizumab (ACE910) bridges activated factor IX and factor X to restore the function of activated factor VIII, which is deficient in persons with hemophilia A. This phase 3, multicenter trial assessed once-weekly subcutaneous emicizumab prophylaxis in persons with hemophilia A with factor VIII inhibitors. Methods We enrolled participants who were 12 years of age or older. Those who had previously received episodic treatment with bypassing agents were randomly assigned in a 2:1 ratio to emicizumab prophylaxis (group A) or no prophylaxis (group B). The primary end point was the difference in bleeding rates between group A and group B. Participants who had previously received prophylactic treatment with bypassing agents received emicizumab prophylaxis in group C. Results A total of 109 male participants with hemophilia A with inhibitors were enrolled. The annualized bleeding rate was 2.9 events (95% confidence interval [CI], 1.7 to 5.0) among participants who were randomly assigned to emicizumab prophylaxis (group A, 35 participants) versus 23.3 events (95% CI, 12.3 to 43.9) among those assigned to no prophylaxis (group B, 18 participants), representing a significant difference of 87% in favor of emicizumab prophylaxis (P<0.001). A total of 22 participants in group A (63%) had zero bleeding events, as compared with 1 participant (6%) in group B. Among 24 participants in group C who had participated in a noninterventional study, emicizumab prophylaxis resulted in a bleeding rate that was significantly lower by 79% than the rate with previous bypassing-agent prophylaxis (P<0.001). Overall, 198 adverse events were reported in 103 participants receiving emicizumab prophylaxis; the most frequent events were injection-site reactions (in 15% of participants). Thrombotic microangiopathy and thrombosis were reported in 2 participants each (in the primary analysis) who had received multiple infusions of activated prothrombin complex concentrate for breakthrough bleeding. No antidrug antibodies were detected. Conclusions Emicizumab prophylaxis was associated with a significantly lower rate of bleeding events than no prophylaxis among participants with hemophilia A with inhibitors. (Funded by F. Hoffmann-La Roche and Chugai Pharmaceutical; HAVEN 1 number, NCT02622321 .).

Concepts: Clinical trial, Warfarin, Pharmaceutical industry, Factor X, Coagulation system, Hoffmann–La Roche, Chugai Pharmaceutical Co., Hoffmann-La Roche


Background B cells influence the pathogenesis of multiple sclerosis. Ocrelizumab is a humanized monoclonal antibody that selectively depletes CD20+ B cells. Methods In two identical phase 3 trials, we randomly assigned 821 and 835 patients with relapsing multiple sclerosis to receive intravenous ocrelizumab at a dose of 600 mg every 24 weeks or subcutaneous interferon beta-1a at a dose of 44 μg three times weekly for 96 weeks. The primary end point was the annualized relapse rate. Results The annualized relapse rate was lower with ocrelizumab than with interferon beta-1a in trial 1 (0.16 vs. 0.29; 46% lower rate with ocrelizumab; P<0.001) and in trial 2 (0.16 vs. 0.29; 47% lower rate; P<0.001). In prespecified pooled analyses, the percentage of patients with disability progression confirmed at 12 weeks was significantly lower with ocrelizumab than with interferon beta-1a (9.1% vs. 13.6%; hazard ratio, 0.60; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.45 to 0.81; P<0.001), as was the percentage of patients with disability progression confirmed at 24 weeks (6.9% vs. 10.5%; hazard ratio, 0.60; 95% CI, 0.43 to 0.84; P=0.003). The mean number of gadolinium-enhancing lesions per T1-weighted magnetic resonance scan was 0.02 with ocrelizumab versus 0.29 with interferon beta-1a in trial 1 (94% lower number of lesions with ocrelizumab, P<0.001) and 0.02 versus 0.42 in trial 2 (95% lower number of lesions, P<0.001). The change in the Multiple Sclerosis Functional Composite score (a composite measure of walking speed, upper-limb movements, and cognition; for this z score, negative values indicate worsening and positive values indicate improvement) significantly favored ocrelizumab over interferon beta-1a in trial 2 (0.28 vs. 0.17, P=0.004) but not in trial 1 (0.21 vs. 0.17, P=0.33). Infusion-related reactions occurred in 34.3% of the patients treated with ocrelizumab. Serious infection occurred in 1.3% of the patients treated with ocrelizumab and in 2.9% of those treated with interferon beta-1a. Neoplasms occurred in 0.5% of the patients treated with ocrelizumab and in 0.2% of those treated with interferon beta-1a. Conclusions Among patients with relapsing multiple sclerosis, ocrelizumab was associated with lower rates of disease activity and progression than interferon beta-1a over a period of 96 weeks. Larger and longer studies of the safety of ocrelizumab are required. (Funded by F. Hoffmann-La Roche; OPERA I and II numbers, NCT01247324 and NCT01412333 , respectively.).

Concepts: Immune system, Monoclonal antibodies, Magnetic resonance imaging, Multiple sclerosis, Relapse, Rituximab, Hoffmann–La Roche


Background Alectinib, a highly selective inhibitor of anaplastic lymphoma kinase (ALK), has shown systemic and central nervous system (CNS) efficacy in the treatment of ALK-positive non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC). We investigated alectinib as compared with crizotinib in patients with previously untreated, advanced ALK-positive NSCLC, including those with asymptomatic CNS disease. Methods In a randomized, open-label, phase 3 trial, we randomly assigned 303 patients with previously untreated, advanced ALK-positive NSCLC to receive either alectinib (600 mg twice daily) or crizotinib (250 mg twice daily). The primary end point was investigator-assessed progression-free survival. Secondary end points were independent review committee-assessed progression-free survival, time to CNS progression, objective response rate, and overall survival. Results During a median follow-up of 17.6 months (crizotinib) and 18.6 months (alectinib), an event of disease progression or death occurred in 62 of 152 patients (41%) in the alectinib group and 102 of 151 patients (68%) in the crizotinib group. The rate of investigator-assessed progression-free survival was significantly higher with alectinib than with crizotinib (12-month event-free survival rate, 68.4% [95% confidence interval (CI), 61.0 to 75.9] with alectinib vs. 48.7% [95% CI, 40.4 to 56.9] with crizotinib; hazard ratio for disease progression or death, 0.47 [95% CI, 0.34 to 0.65]; P<0.001); the median progression-free survival with alectinib was not reached. The results for independent review committee-assessed progression-free survival were consistent with those for the primary end point. A total of 18 patients (12%) in the alectinib group had an event of CNS progression, as compared with 68 patients (45%) in the crizotinib group (cause-specific hazard ratio, 0.16; 95% CI, 0.10 to 0.28; P<0.001). A response occurred in 126 patients in the alectinib group (response rate, 82.9%; 95% CI, 76.0 to 88.5) and in 114 patients in the crizotinib group (response rate, 75.5%; 95% CI, 67.8 to 82.1) (P=0.09). Grade 3 to 5 adverse events were less frequent with alectinib (41% vs. 50% with crizotinib). Conclusions As compared with crizotinib, alectinib showed superior efficacy and lower toxicity in primary treatment of ALK-positive NSCLC. (Funded by F. Hoffmann-La Roche; ALEX number, NCT02075840 .).

Concepts: Central nervous system, Nervous system, Epidemiology, Cancer, Lung cancer, Non-small cell lung carcinoma, Anaplastic large cell lymphoma, Hoffmann–La Roche


Background The monoclonal anti-CD20 antibody rituximab, combined with chemotherapeutic agents, has been shown to prolong overall survival in physically fit patients with previously untreated chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) but not in those with coexisting conditions. We investigated the benefit of the type 2, glycoengineered antibody obinutuzumab (also known as GA101) as compared with that of rituximab, each combined with chlorambucil, in patients with previously untreated CLL and coexisting conditions. Methods We randomly assigned 781 patients with previously untreated CLL and a score higher than 6 on the Cumulative Illness Rating Scale (CIRS) (range, 0 to 56, with higher scores indicating worse health status) or an estimated creatinine clearance of 30 to 69 ml per minute to receive chlorambucil, obinutuzumab plus chlorambucil, or rituximab plus chlorambucil. The primary end point was investigator-assessed progression-free survival. Results The patients had a median age of 73 years, creatinine clearance of 62 ml per minute, and CIRS score of 8 at baseline. Treatment with obinutuzumab-chlorambucil or rituximab-chlorambucil, as compared with chlorambucil monotherapy, increased response rates and prolonged progression-free survival (median progression-free survival, 26.7 months with obinutuzumab-chlorambucil vs. 11.1 months with chlorambucil alone; hazard ratio for progression or death, 0.18; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.13 to 0.24; P<0.001; and 16.3 months with rituximab-chlorambucil vs. 11.1 months with chlorambucil alone; hazard ratio, 0.44; 95% CI, 0.34 to 0.57; P<0.001). Treatment with obinutuzumab-chlorambucil, as compared with chlorambucil alone, prolonged overall survival (hazard ratio for death, 0.41; 95% CI, 0.23 to 0.74; P=0.002). Treatment with obinutuzumab-chlorambucil, as compared with rituximab-chlorambucil, resulted in prolongation of progression-free survival (hazard ratio, 0.39; 95% CI, 0.31 to 0.49; P<0.001) and higher rates of complete response (20.7% vs. 7.0%) and molecular response. Infusion-related reactions and neutropenia were more common with obinutuzumab-chlorambucil than with rituximab-chlorambucil, but the risk of infection was not increased. Conclusions Combining an anti-CD20 antibody with chemotherapy improved outcomes in patients with CLL and coexisting conditions. In this patient population, obinutuzumab was superior to rituximab when each was combined with chlorambucil. (Funded by F. Hoffmann-La Roche; number, NCT01010061 .).

Concepts: Immune system, Oncology, Chemotherapy, Multiple sclerosis, Leukemia, Normal distribution, Hoffmann–La Roche, Genentech


Abstract The present research work explores an innovative technological solution to constraints in efficient oral delivery of poorly water-soluble anti-obesity drug orlistat. Nanoemulsion of orlistat and its subsequent transformation into multi-unit pellet system (MUPS) for improved oral delivery was developed. Orlistat nanoemulsion was developed with capryol PGMC as an oil phase and cremophor RH40 as an emulsifier using high-pressure homogenization. Influence of critical processing parameters on globule size distribution, polydispersity index and physical stability of nanoemulsion was evaluated. The optimized nanoemulsion was transformed into MUPS using an extrusion spheronization technique. Optimized formulation was characterized at nanoemulsion as well as MUPS stage. DLS and nanoparticle tracking analysis studies of orlistat nanoemulsion exhibited unimodal size distribution with polydispersity value <0.1. Confocal laser scanning microscopy (CLSM) studies confirmed the presence of uniform spherical nanosized oil droplets of nanoemulsified orlistat. DSC and PXRD studies of MUPS confirmed amorphization of embedded nanoemulsified orlistat. In-vitro dissolution studies in surfactant-reduced media demonstrated remarkable improvement in dissolution compared to pure orlistat and marketed formulation (Xenical Capsules 120 mg, Hoffman-La Roche, Basle, Switzerland). Comparative in-vitro bovine porcine pancreatic lipase inhibition studies of pure orlistat, marketed product and developed MUPS showed 13.57- and 2.41-fold higher lipase inhibition with developed MUPS compared to pure orlistat and marketed products, respectively.

Concepts: Obesity, Liquid, Phase, Emulsion, Hoffmann–La Roche, Pancreatic lipase, Orlistat, Basel


Background Bevacizumab is approved for the treatment of patients with progressive glioblastoma on the basis of uncontrolled data. Data from a phase 2 trial suggested that the addition of bevacizumab to lomustine might improve overall survival as compared with monotherapies. We sought to determine whether the combination would result in longer overall survival than lomustine alone among patients at first progression of glioblastoma. Methods We randomly assigned patients with progression after chemoradiation in a 2:1 ratio to receive lomustine plus bevacizumab (combination group, 288 patients) or lomustine alone (monotherapy group, 149 patients). The methylation status of the promoter of O(6)-methylguanine-DNA methyltransferase (MGMT) was assessed. Health-related quality of life and neurocognitive function were evaluated at baseline and every 12 weeks. The primary end point of the trial was overall survival. Results A total of 437 patients underwent randomization. The median number of 6-week treatment cycles was three in the combination group and one in the monotherapy group. With 329 overall survival events (75.3%), the combination therapy did not provide a survival advantage; the median overall survival was 9.1 months (95% confidence interval [CI], 8.1 to 10.1) in the combination group and 8.6 months (95% CI, 7.6 to 10.4) in the monotherapy group (hazard ratio for death, 0.95; 95% CI, 0.74 to 1.21; P=0.65). Locally assessed progression-free survival was 2.7 months longer in the combination group than in the monotherapy group: 4.2 months versus 1.5 months (hazard ratio for disease progression or death, 0.49; 95% CI, 0.39 to 0.61; P<0.001). Grade 3 to 5 adverse events occurred in 63.6% of the patients in the combination group and 38.1% of the patients in the monotherapy group. The addition of bevacizumab to lomustine affected neither health-related quality of life nor neurocognitive function. The MGMT status was prognostic. Conclusions Despite somewhat prolonged progression-free survival, treatment with lomustine plus bevacizumab did not confer a survival advantage over treatment with lomustine alone in patients with progressive glioblastoma. (Funded by an unrestricted educational grant from F. Hoffmann-La Roche and by the EORTC Cancer Research Fund; EORTC 26101 number, NCT01290939 ; Eudra-CT number, 2010-023218-30 .).

Concepts: Cancer, Medical terms, Neurocognitive, Median, Normal distribution, Hoffmann–La Roche, Genentech


Background Rituximab-based immunochemotherapy has improved outcomes in patients with follicular lymphoma. Obinutuzumab is a glycoengineered type II anti-CD20 monoclonal antibody. We compared rituximab-based chemotherapy with obinutuzumab-based chemotherapy in patients with previously untreated advanced-stage follicular lymphoma. Methods We randomly assigned patients to undergo induction treatment with obinutuzumab-based chemotherapy or rituximab-based chemotherapy. Patients with a response received maintenance treatment for up to 2 years with the same antibody that they had received in induction. The primary end point was investigator-assessed progression-free survival. Results A total of 1202 patients with follicular lymphoma underwent randomization (601 patients in each group). After a median follow-up of 34.5 months (range, 0 to 54.5), a planned interim analysis showed that obinutuzumab-based chemotherapy resulted in a significantly lower risk of progression, relapse, or death than rituximab-based chemotherapy (estimated 3-year rate of progression-free survival, 80.0% vs. 73.3%; hazard ratio for progression, relapse, or death, 0.66; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.51 to 0.85; P=0.001). Similar results were seen with regard to independently reviewed progression-free survival and other time-to-event end points. Response rates were similar in the two groups (88.5% in the obinutuzumab group and 86.9% in the rituximab group). Adverse events of grade 3 to 5 were more frequent in the obinutuzumab group than in the rituximab group (74.6% vs. 67.8%), as were serious adverse events (46.1% vs. 39.9%). The rates of adverse events resulting in death were similar in the two groups (4.0% in the obinutuzumab group and 3.4% in the rituximab group). The most common adverse events were infusion-related events that were considered by the investigators to be largely due to obinutuzumab in 353 of 595 patients (59.3%; 95% CI, 55.3 to 63.2) and to rituximab in 292 of 597 patients (48.9%; 95% CI, 44.9 to 52.9; P<0.001). Nausea and neutropenia were common. A total of 35 patients (5.8%) in the obinutuzumab group and 46 (7.7%) in the rituximab group died. Conclusions Obinutuzumab-based immunochemotherapy and maintenance therapy resulted in longer progression-free survival than rituximab-based therapy. High-grade adverse events were more common with obinutuzumab-based chemotherapy. (Funded by F. Hoffmann-La Roche; GALLIUM number, NCT01332968 .).

Concepts: Cancer, Monoclonal antibodies, Chemotherapy, Multiple sclerosis, Lymphoma, Follicular lymphoma, Hoffmann–La Roche, Genentech


Since it was introduced to the market by Hoffman-La Roche (Roche) in 1982, isotretinoin has remained the most effective treatment for severe and recalcitrant acne. However, it has also been surrounded by controversy due to its teratogenicity and inconsistent associations with depression, suicidality, inflammatory bowel disease, increases in lipid levels, and elevated transaminases.

Concepts: Inflammation, Ulcerative colitis, Gastroenterology, Inflammatory bowel disease, Hoffmann–La Roche, Controversy, Isotretinoin


The Gene Ontology (GO) consists of over 40,000 terms for biological processes, cell components and gene product activities linked into a graph structure by over 90,000 relationships. It has been used to annotate the functions and cellular locations of several million gene products. The graph structure is used by a variety of tools to group annotated genes into sets whose products share function or location. These gene sets are widely used to interpret the results of genomics experiments by assessing which sets are significantly over- or under-represented in results lists. F Hoffmann-La Roche Ltd. has developed a bespoke, manually maintained controlled vocabulary (RCV) for use in over-representation analysis. Many terms in this vocabulary group GO terms in novel ways that cannot easily be derived using the graph structure of the GO. For example, some RCV terms group GO terms by the cell, chemical or tissue type they refer to. Recent improvements in the content and formal structure of the GO make it possible to use logical queries in Web Ontology Language (OWL) to automatically map these cross-cutting classifications to sets of GO terms. We used this approach to automate mapping between RCV and GO, largely replacing the increasingly unsustainable manual mapping process. We then tested the utility of the resulting groupings for over-representation analysis.

Concepts: Gene, Ontology, Controlled vocabulary, Semantic Web, Hoffmann–La Roche, Gene Ontology, Gene product, Web Ontology Language