Novartis lymphoma drug Afinitor has been shown to significantly shrink tumours in 33% of patients suffering from relapsed non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma (NHL) and Hodgkin’s disease.

In a Phase II open-label trial, 33% of patients with relapsed NHL and Hodgkin’s disease treated with Afinitor (everolimus) tablets experienced a 50% or greater reduction in tumour size.

This 33% overall response rate is defined as complete or partial tumour shrinkage.

Based on these findings, Novartis has now initiated a Phase III trial on the most common NHL, diffuse large B-cell lymphoma (DLBCL).

Novartis executive vice president and global head of oncology development Alessandro Riva said that Afinitor was showing potential against multiple types of cancer.

“These latest data show an antitumour effect in lymphoma that support the rationale for a Phase III study of Afinitor to prevent relapse in patients with diffuse large B-cell lymphoma, where there is a significant unmet medical need,” said Riva.

NHL and Hodgkin’s disease, also known as Hodgkin’s lymphoma, incorporate a variety of cancers which affect the immune system. These cancers include DLBCL, mantle cell lymphoma and follicular lymphoma.