FRANKFURT (Reuters) – AstraZeneca has made further headway in the race with larger competitor GlaxoSmithKline’s to use a promising new class of drugs to treat ovarian cancer.

Astra said on Wednesday its Lynparza drug, which blocks a cancer’s ability to repair its genetic code during cell division, was shown to slow the progression of ovarian cancer that has started to spread in the body.

The patient group that was examined in the so-called Paola-1 trial had been successfully given chemotherapy and Roche’s Avastin as initial treatment following a diagnosis of advanced ovarian cancer.

Those patients then normally receive Avastin as maintenance therapy to reinforce the initial regime and the study’s aim was to show an advantage of adding Lynparza during the follow-up phase.

Lynparza, part of a class of drugs known as PARP inhibitors, is already approved as a maintenance therapy in a different ovarian-cancer patient group that has received chemotherapy alone as initial treatment.

Domestic rival GSK’s Zejula, also a PARP inhibitor, last month showed promise in a similar treatment setting.

Astra said detailed trial results would be presented at a medical conference which the company did not specify.

(Reporting by Ludwig Burger; Editing by David Holmes)