Thursday, May 12, 2005

Cancer drug study

Yesterday, the Lexington Herald Leader ran an article on a multi-center study about the relatively new anti-cancer drug trastruzumab (trade name Herceptin. Yeah, lets just call it herceptin. And no, I wasn't involved in this study, nor do I own stock in the company.). Herceptin is an antibody that targets a cell surface protein (called Her2/neu) that is involved in receiving growth signals. It interferes with these signals and may increase the activity of other drugs when given at the same time. There are some cardiotoxicity (heart damaging) issues, making it difficult to use with Adriamycin, one of the most commonly used breast cancer drugs.

From the article
The treatment under investigation was shown to cut the risk of the recurrence of one particularly devastating type of breast cancer in half. It was so successful that it was halted nearly two years early because the drug's effectiveness already had been proven.

The two will present the results of the study at a meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology on Monday.

Perez said that the drug could be approved for this use by the FDA quickly. "I think it's going to be a short few months," she said. It could be available for the treatment of newly diagnosed breast-cancer patients almost immediately after FDA approval.


Researchers honed in on what looks like a winning combination of chemotherapy and a medication -- trastuzumab, which is marketed by Genentech Inc. as Herceptin. The treatment could drastically reduce the rates of recurrence in the 25 percent of all women with breast cancer who have the type described as HER-2 positive.

An overabundance of the HER-2 protein -- or human epidermal growth factor receptor number two protein -- causes breast-cancer cells to grow very aggressively. That accelerated protein growth is present in roughly one-fourth of the 211,240 women who will be diagnosed with breast cancer in the United States this year. Breast cancer will kill an estimated 40,110 women in 2005, according to the National Cancer Institute, accounting for 15 percent of all cancer deaths in women.
The drug already is approved for use in breast cancer that has metastacized -- or spread throughout the body. Further study was needed before it could be used on newly diagnosed patients, because it caused cardiac problems in a small number of women.

Mad props to Dr. Edward Romond (one of the principal investigators in the trial), University of Kentucky/Markey Cancer Center.

by Robster @ 5/12/2005 01:00:00 PM PERMALink