Promising Research for Metastatic Breast Cancer

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By Jennifer Litton, M.D.

Today at the 2010 ASCO Annual Meeting, a number of studies were presented regarding metastatic breast cancer. Several looked at new drugs showing promise in women with HER2 positive breast cancer who have already had trastuzumab and/or lapatinib therapy.

Trastuzumab DM-1 is a new therapy combining trastuzumab with another toxin that now gets taken up by the metastatic tumor and releases a toxin that kills the tumor cell. The biggest side effect of this therapy appears to be low platelets. Additionally, studies presented look at pairing it with pertuzumab, another anti-HER-2 agent that may also target resistance to trastuzumab. Two other studies looked at adding everolimus, an mTOR inhibitor to trastuzumab. The idea is to block a mechanism of resistance to trastuzumab.

  Litton2.jpgIn the research presented by Morrow and Esteva, et al., this combination of everolimus and trastuzumab had 47 patients. Fifteen percent of patients had a partial response and 19% had stable disease for >/= 24 weeks in women who had already received trastuzumab showing biological activity of this combination.

Further studies regarding improving existing agents and pairing with other agents that circumvent resistance continue to show promise and progress in this field.

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