A clinical trial with an experimental medication involving 557 patients with metastatic breast cancer has shown remarkable results by slowing tumor growth and prolonging survival, according to the New York Times.
According to the American Cancer Society, breast cancer is the second most common cancer that affects women in the United States. Despite the fact that 287,850 new cases of breast cancer will be diagnosed in the United States in 2022 alone, and that will have claimed more than 43,000 lives. Among them, there are various and varied types of breast cancer and survival rates.
Although treatment options have improved beyond chemotherapy and radiation therapy, medication that can specifically target cancerous cells are now available. One method of doing so is by targeting the human epidermal growth factor receptor (HER2 protein), commonly found on the surface of cancerous cells. Enhertu, a drug developed by AstraZeneca and Daiichi Sankyo, is one such therapy option.
How does Enhertu work?
Chemoglobulin carries a monoclonal antibody, trastuzumab, and a chemotherapy medication deruxtecan, which is chemically linked to the antibody.
The goal of the antibody is to travel through the blood and search for cancerous cells that display the HER2 protein on their surface. Once the antibody finds the protein, it attaches itself to it and then enters the cell. This releases the chemotherapy medication which attacks the cell. Interestingly, the drug also kills them.
Enhertu was approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for HER2-positive breast cancer. However, some breast cancer patients are also diagnosed with HER2-negative cancer while others are not, according to the New York Times.
Enhertu trial for HER2-low
AstraZeneca and Daiichi started a campaign to evaluate whether Enhertu would be effective in patients with metastatic tumors although they were HER2-low. The group involved 557 patients, one-third of whom received Enhertu, while the remaining received standard chemotherapy as therapy.
Compared to the 16.8 months observed in patients who received Enhertu, tumors stopped growing for 10 months, while chemotherapy might halt them for five months. Overall survival in patients who received the experimental medication was 23.9 months.
The findings of the research have been described by cancer specialists, who discussed them with The NYTh. Previous studies have shown survival benefits for only a few weeks. "Unheard-of improvement in survival in metastatic breast cancer by six months," one expert said.
The results of the clinical study were also presented at an oncology conference in Chicago this week and are now available in the New England Journal of Medicine.
The medication still requires FDA approval for use in HER2-low patients and will not be used for early-stage breast cancer, according to the NYT. The cost of the drug is a whopping $14,000 every three weeks, according to the report. Enhertu''s side effects includenausea, vomiting, and lung diseases, which also resulted in the death of three patients.
A large percentage of breast cancers with human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2) amplification, overexpression, or both may be targeted. The currently available HER2-directed therapies have been ineffective in patients with these HER2-low cancers.
Among 557 patients who received trastuzumab deruxtecan, 494 (88.7%) had hormone receptorpositive disease and 63 (11.3%) had hormone receptornegative disease. Among all patients, the median progression-free survival was 10.1 months in the trastuzumab group and 5.4 months in the physicians choice group (hazard ratio for disease progression or death, 0.50; P0.001), but overall survival was 23.9 months and 17.5 months, respectively (hazard ratio for death,
trastuzumab deruxtecan, a therapy provider, resulted in significantly longer progression-free and overall survival than physicians'' choice of chemotherapy.