SEVERE WX : Winter Weather Advisory View Alerts

Scientists make 'exciting' advancement in certain breast cancer drugs

Two new drugs for advanced HER2-positive breast cancer were tested in separate studies, and scientists say they've made progress in the development of new tr...

Posted: Dec 17, 2019 9:29 AM

Two new drugs for advanced HER2-positive breast cancer were tested in separate studies, and scientists say they've made progress in the development of new treatment options.

This type of breast cancer tests positive for higher levels of a protein called HER2.

One study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine last week, found that adding the experimental drug tucatinib to a chemotherapy regimen consisting of the drugs trastuzumab and capecitabine could improve survival for adults with advanced HER2-positive metastatic breast cancer.

The other study, also published in the New England Journal of Medicine last week, found that the experimental drug conjugate called trastuzumab deruxtecan was able to substantially reduce tumor activity in patients with HER2-positive metastatic breast cancer.

"Both studies are evaluating new drugs for HER2-positive breast cancer, which represents about 15% to 20% of all breast cancers," said Dr. Eric Winer, chief of the division of breast oncology at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston and professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, who was the senior author of the tucatinib study.

"What's so exciting is we have developed multiple new drugs for HER2-positive breast cancer -- we have new drugs for all subtypes of breast cancer -- but the changes are most dramatic in the setting of HER2-positive breast cancer," Winer said.

"It is the single area in breast cancer where we have made the most dramatic progress and continue to," he said. "For individuals with advanced breast cancer we can individualize therapy more than in the past; it is no longer one size fits all."

The tucatinib study: 'It was pretty well tolerated'

The tucatinib study included 613 patients who previously underwent chemotherapy for HER2-positive metastatic breast cancer by taking the drugs trastuzumab, pertuzumab and trastuzumab emtansine -- but that treatment approach had stopped working for the patients.

For the study, the patients were randomly assigned to either the drug tucatinib or a placebo and received chemotherapy with the drugs trastuzumab and capecitabine.

The researchers found that in the first year of treatment, 33.1% of patients in the tucatinib group did not see their cancer progress compared with 12.3% of patients in the placebo group.

The researchers also found that overall survival two years after starting treatment was 44.9% among patients in the tucatinib group and 26.6% among those in the placebo group.

Side effects of the tucatinib treatment that emerged in the study included the risks of diarrhea and elevated levels of an enzyme in the body called aminotransferase.

"But in general it was pretty well tolerated," Winer said.

Next year, the biotechnology company Seattle Genetics, which develops tucatinib, plans to submit a new drug application to the US Food and Drug Administration and an application to the European Medicines Agency with the goal of bringing this new medicine to the public, Dr. Roger Dansey, chief medical officer at the company, said in a press release on Wednesday.

"Continued innovation to bring new therapies for the treatment of metastatic HER2-positive breast cancer is urgently needed, and we are encouraged by the impressive clinical activity demonstrated with the addition of tucatinib to trastuzumab and capecitabine," he said in part.

The trastuzumab deruxtecan study: 'I am cautiously optimistic'

The trastuzumab deruxtecan study included 184 patients who had already undergone multiple prior treatments for HER2-positive breast cancer. The patients were given the recommended dose of trastuzumab deruxtecan at 5.4 mg per kilogram of body weight.

The researchers found that the patients saw no further progression of their cancer for a median of 16.4 months and that the cancer in 60.9% of the patients shrunk by at least 50% in response to the treatment. However, the treatment came with some side effects, including nausea, myelosuppression -- the decline of bone marrow activity -- and interstitial lung disease.

Overall, "it is rare that a drug has effects on women heavily pretreated," said Dr. Otis Brawley, Bloomberg Distinguished Professor of oncology and epidemiology at Johns Hopkins University, who was not involved in the new study.

"I am cautiously optimistic," he said, but added that more research is needed to determine whether trastuzumab deruxtecan could help patients live longer.

Dr. Ian Krop, a principal investigator of the study and associate chief of the division of breast oncology at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, called the research results "striking" in a press release on Wednesday.

"These results are particularly striking as trastuzumab deruxtecan prompted a high level of durable tumor reduction among patients, the majority of whom had exhausted most if not all standard therapies for HER2-metastatic breast cancer," he said. "We are excited by these results and their potential to help patients with this advanced stage of breast cancer."

Terre Haute
Cloudy
35° wxIcon
Hi: 39° Lo: 34°
Feels Like: 27°
Robinson
Cloudy
34° wxIcon
Hi: 41° Lo: 34°
Feels Like: 25°
Indianapolis/Eagle Creek
Cloudy
34° wxIcon
Hi: 37° Lo: 32°
Feels Like: 24°
Paris
Cloudy
33° wxIcon
Hi: 38° Lo: 32°
Feels Like: 24°
Mattoon/Charleston
Cloudy
33° wxIcon
Hi: 38° Lo: 34°
Feels Like: 25°
Terre Haute
Cloudy
35° wxIcon
Hi: 39° Lo: 33°
Feels Like: 27°
Terre Haute
Cloudy
35° wxIcon
Hi: 37° Lo: 33°
Feels Like: 27°
Cloudy, Cold, Wednesday Snow
WTHI Planner
WTHI Temps
WTHI Radar

WTHI Events

 

Illinois Coronavirus Cases

(Widget updates once daily at 7 p.m. CT)

Cases: 1104763

Reported Deaths: 20744
CountyCasesDeaths
Cook4460359268
DuPage710701173
Will59914891
Lake54851924
Kane47289710
Winnebago26813416
Madison25429480
St. Clair23107451
McHenry22290260
Champaign15937106
Peoria15535252
Sangamon14956245
McLean13590173
Tazewell12346253
Rock Island12229308
Kankakee11733187
Kendall1003981
LaSalle9807250
Macon9005182
Vermilion7806117
DeKalb769995
Adams7564129
Williamson6373119
Boone566580
Whiteside5441175
Clinton518886
Coles480486
Ogle471973
Knox4712147
Grundy454154
Effingham436571
Jackson431670
Henry412078
Marion4093113
Macoupin402997
Franklin394671
Livingston381170
Randolph380274
Monroe369571
Stephenson364677
Jefferson3570105
Woodford335470
Morgan332393
Logan317959
Montgomery316654
Lee314576
Christian306279
Bureau305985
Fayette296853
Perry279662
Iroquois263058
Fulton262650
Jersey230961
Lawrence220730
McDonough220051
Saline209254
Douglas205734
Union204032
Shelby202435
Crawford183635
Cass179531
Bond178524
Pike160648
Warren160444
Richland157546
Hancock155635
Wayne154843
Clark153234
Jo Daviess152725
Washington149826
Edgar149452
Carroll147633
Moultrie141828
White141333
Ford140851
Clay134040
Greene128443
Johnson125715
Wabash121915
Mason119841
Piatt119718
De Witt119228
Mercer119130
Cumberland111827
Massac107133
Jasper106115
Menard92310
Hamilton73217
Marshall70915
Schuyler65017
Brown62611
Pulaski6253
Stark50120
Edwards4789
Henderson46816
Calhoun4504
Scott4081
Alexander4067
Gallatin3974
Putnam3592
Hardin3128
Pope2583
Unassigned1110
Out of IL340

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

(Widget updates once daily at 8 p.m. ET)

Cases: 613228

Reported Deaths: 9728
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion846851338
Lake45676687
Allen32980552
Hamilton29649315
St. Joseph27531382
Elkhart24478345
Vanderburgh19610250
Tippecanoe18108141
Johnson15191295
Porter14944169
Hendricks14485250
Madison11044222
Clark10811144
Vigo10795181
Monroe9458113
Delaware9170134
LaPorte9145164
Howard8292144
Kosciusko810183
Warrick680299
Hancock6782104
Bartholomew6640100
Floyd6507110
Wayne6177162
Grant6027116
Dubois558680
Boone556468
Morgan548695
Henry511464
Marshall506984
Cass486964
Dearborn486545
Noble475659
Jackson427747
Shelby420781
Lawrence393780
Clinton375044
Gibson374459
Harrison353045
DeKalb349864
Montgomery347654
Knox336239
Miami324544
Steuben315046
Whitley311126
Wabash305851
Adams302836
Ripley300546
Putnam298950
Huntington294860
Jasper291734
White275143
Daviess271774
Jefferson266238
Decatur249583
Fayette248648
Greene242262
Posey241028
Wells236951
LaGrange230062
Scott226839
Clay224332
Randolph215248
Jennings200636
Sullivan193533
Spencer193022
Washington188023
Fountain184927
Starke176444
Jay168623
Owen167637
Fulton164830
Orange160935
Carroll159715
Rush156318
Perry155929
Vermillion149734
Franklin149333
Tipton133133
Parke13088
Pike118526
Blackford111822
Pulaski97837
Newton92021
Brown88335
Benton87110
Crawford8099
Martin74913
Warren6857
Switzerland6695
Union6297
Ohio4977
Unassigned0376