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Roche and Aventis unveil anti-cancer offensive

The pharmaceuticals divisions of the Roche and Aventis groups have announced that they are to cooperate in a global cancer research agreement.

The deal, announced on Wednesday, aims to accelerate the study of two powerful anti-cancer drugs to improve early cancer treatment.

In a statement from its headquarters in Basel, Roche said the accord would promote studies combining its Herceptin drug with the Taxotere drug, which was discovered, developed and marketed globally by Aventis.

Roche's Herceptin was the first gene-targeted treatment for breast cancer with proven survival benefit. Taxotere is described as one of the most widely used and most effective treatments for the disease.

"Cancer is on the increase and is a disease area with many unmet challenges. This collaboration presents an ideal opportunity to help fight breast cancer in a new way," said Dr Bart Vanhauwere, international medical manager for Herceptin.

The statement added that success in the treatment of cancer would in the future depend on targeted therapies for specific types of cancer.

The companies said there were good scientific reasons to believe that the new clinical trial cooperation would advance early chemotherapy strategies in breast cancer and other types of cancer.

The Aventis group was created in December last year through the merger of Hoechst of Germany and Rhone-Poulenc of France.

swissinfo with agencies

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