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Novartis skin cancer drug shrinks tumors in Phase II trial

ZURICH (Reuters) - An experimental drug from Novartis markedly shrank tumors in patients with advanced basal cell carcinoma, the most common form of skin cancer, according to the results of a mid-stage study published on Sunday.

Basal cell carcinoma can be highly disfiguring and life-threatening in its advanced stages. The number of people with the illness is on the rise as the global population ages and people become increasingly exposed to ultraviolet rays.

The Phase II trial assessed the safety and efficacy of two oral doses of Novartis' drug LDE225 in patients with locally advanced or metastatic basal cell carcinoma.

Results of the mid-stage study presented at the American Society of Clinical Oncology meeting in Chicago on Sunday found patients had marked and sustained tumour shrinkage after a median follow-up of 13.9 months, Novartis said.

Alessandro Riva, head of Novartis Oncology Development and Medical Affairs, said the data would form the basis for filings for approval with global health regulators.

(Reporting by Caroline Copley; editing by Jane Baird)

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