Chugai Pharmaceutical Co has been granted priority review designation for its trastuzumab anti-cancer antibody by the Japanese Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare.

The designation was granted following an application for additional approval to treat HER2-positive advanced or recurrent gastric cancer.

The application is based on Phase III trial data involving patients with these diseases, which showed that trastuzumab improved overall survival when used in combination with chemotherapy.

Gastric cancer is the second highest cause of death among male cancer patients in Japan, and third highest among female cancer patients. An estimated 110,000 new cases of stomach cancer will be diagnosed in the country in 2010.