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In early trial, Pfizer drug shown to stop tumors

NEW YORK -- Pfizer Inc. yesterday released early data that suggest an experimental drug shows promise in treating kidney cancer and a rare gastrointestinal cancer.

The company's drug, known as SU11248, was tested in 63 patients with the most common form of kidney cancer. It showed tumors stopped growing in 37 percent of patients and shrank in 30 percent of patients.

The most common standard of care in kidney cancer that has spread is treatment with one or two agents called cytokines, which typically shrink tumors in 5 percent to 15 percent of patients.

Pfizer also tested the drug in patients with metastatic gastrointestinal stromal tumor, a rare type of cancer that arises mainly in the stomach and small bowel. Of 98 patients tested, 52 percent saw their tumors stop growing, and 11 percent saw them shrink.

''These are still early data but we are encouraged by what we are seeing, particularly in renal cancer," said Bill Slichenmyer, vice president for oncology drug development. The drug inhibits a target called KiT, which is the same target addressed by Novartis AG's drug Gleevec, the most advanced drug available for gastrointestinal stromal tumor and chronic myeloid leukemia.

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