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US clears Genentech drug for kidney cancer

WASHINGTON (AP) --­ Biotech drugmaker Genentech Inc. said Sunday that US regulators have approved its cancer treatment Avastin for a new use against a form of kidney cancer, marking the sixth approval for the blockbuster drug.

Avastin is already approved to treat certain types of lung, breast and colon cancer.

Food and Drug Administration regulators cleared the injectable treatment for advanced renal cell carcinoma, the most common form of kidney cancer. Roughly 50,000 new cases of the disease are diagnosed in the US each year, according to the National Cancer Institute.

South San Francisco, California-based Genentech is owned by drugmaker Roche, based in Basel, Switzerland. 

Avastin was Genentech's top-selling product last year with revenue of $2.69 billion. However, sales growth has been slowing. Analysts say the drug is likely reaching a saturation point in the market and will need additional FDA approvals to continue growing. 

In April, a study showed Avastin failed to prevent colon cancer from recurring in patients who had undergone surgery, sending Roche shares lower in trading. 

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Initially approved in 2004, Avastin was the first drug to fight cancer by choking off blood flow to tumors. Such "targeted therapies" were considered a significant advance beyond chemotherapy.

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