A current kidney cancer treatment may help in the fight against ovarian cancer.

GlaxoSmithKline’s Votrient medicine, approved for kidney cancer, delayed relapse of advanced ovarian cancer by an average 5.6 months following initial treatment with chemotherapy, the company says.

“Ovarian cancer is a leading cause of cancer deaths among women, so we were excited to collaborate with AGO and other cooperative groups in the search for new treatments.” said Dr. Rafael Amado, Head of Oncology Research and Development at GSK. “This study showed that treatment with Votrient following surgery and chemotherapy extended the time that these women lived without their disease progressing. We are planning to submit regulatory applications in 2013.”

Disease progression was delayed for a median of 17.9 months among patients taking Votrient, compared with 12.3 months among those on placebo, according to the study of 940 patients with advanced ovarian, fallopian tube and primary peritoneal cancer.

The study, funded by GSK (NYSE: GSK), was presented at the American Society of Clinical Oncology’s annual meeting in Chicago on Saturday.

“Pazopanib treatment reduced the risk of disease progression or death by 23 percent,” GSK noted. 

However, GSK also said the “incidence of serious adverse events was higher in the pazopanib group compared to the placebo group (26% vs 11%).”

Ovarian cancer is the fifth leading cause of cancer death among women in developed countries, and 70 percent of patients at the advanced stage relapse even after successful treatment with surgery and chemotherapy. Votrient, also known as pazopanib, was approved for use in the U.S. in 2009 for advanced kidney cancer.

“Our findings show that we finally have a drug that can maintain control over ovarian cancer growth,” lead study author Andreas du Bois, professor of gynecologic oncology at Kliniken Essen Mitte in Essen, Germany, said in a statement. “If pazopanib is approved for ovarian cancer, many patients will experience longer disease-free and chemotherapy-free periods.”

Glaxo plans to seek approval of Votrient for ovarian cancer later this year in the U.S. and Europe, according to spokeswoman Eleanor Bunch. The drug was given orphan designation on May 6 by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Votrient may reach annual sales of $779 million by 2016 from $441 million this year, according to the average of nine analyst estimates compiled by Bloomberg.

The full announcement about the trial can be read online.

GSK operates its North American headquarters in RTP. 

[GSK ARCHIVE: Check out more than a decade of GSK stories as reported in WRAL Tech Wire.]

(Bloomberg contributed to this report.)