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Cancer drugs in the pipeline

SAN ANTONIO - Scientists in the clinic and the laboratory continue to work to drive breast cancer mortality rates down with breakthrough drugs. With tamoxifen's discovery 30 years behind us, and the impact of Herceptin still being felt, researchers are studying zoledronic acid, aromatase inhibitors and monoclonal antibodies, among others, with encouraging results. Data will be presented at the CTRC-AACR San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium.

Zoledronic Acid May Have Anti-Tumor Properties
Abstract #5101, Robert Coleman, M.D

Early results of the AZURE (Adjuvant Zoledronic Acid to Reduce Recurrence) trial suggest that zoledronic acid may have antitumor properties when combined with chemotherapy. Treatment was linked with a reduction in tumor size (20.5 mm vs. 30 mm), an increase in the complete response rate (10.9 percent vs. 5.8 percent) and a decrease in the number of patients requiring mastectomy (65.3 percent vs. 77.9 percent).

Full release available/Complete data to be presented at the meeting.

Breast Cancer Patients May have Better Option to Reduce Estrogen Levels
Abstract #15, Stephen Jones, M.D
Embargo: 10:15 a.m. CST, December 11, 2008

Despite adjuvant therapy to reduce estrogen levels, one in five breast cancer survivors will have a recurrence. The first results from the TEAM study, one of the largest clinical trials ever conducted for invasive breast cancer, demonstrated that exemestane may be more effective in postmenopausal women than current treatment with tamoxifen. Exemestane is an agent that actually stops the body from producing estrogen.

Full data to be presented at the meeting.

Herceptin Increases Event-Free Survival in Locally Advanced HER2-Postive Breast Cancer
Abstract #31, Luca Gianni, M.D

Among patients with HER2-positive, locally advanced breast cancer, neoadjuvant treatment with Herceptin increased three-year, event-free survival to 70 percent compared with 53 percent among those receiving chemotherapy alone. The addition of trastuzumab (Herceptin) was well tolerated with acceptable cardiac safety. Researchers claim this phase III clinical trial establishes chemotherapy with one year of Herceptin as a standard treatment option in this patient population.

Full data to be presented at the meeting.

Lapatinib Improved Progression-Free Survival in Postmenopausal Women with Breast Cancer
Abstract #46, Stephen Johnston, Ph.D

For the treatment of women with hormone-receptor-positive metastatic breast cancer that also co-expressed HER2, combining lapatinib with an aromatase inhibitor significantly improved progression-free survival from three months in the letrozole alone group to 8.2 months in the combination group. Overall clinical benefit rate increased from 28.7 percent to 48.7 percent. Involving 1,286 patients, this is the largest trial of its kind to date.

Full data to be presented at the meeting.

Adjuvant Aromatase Inhibitors Lower Breast Cancer Recurrence Risk
Abstract #12, James Ingle, M.D.
Embargo: 9:30 a.m. CST, December 11, 2008

Adjuvant therapy with aromatase inhibitors (AIs) for postmenopausal estrogen-receptor-positive breast cancer given either as initial monotherapy or after several years of tamoxifen decreases the risk of recurrent disease more than tamoxifen, according to two meta-analyses. The risk reduction with AIs was statistically significant.

Full data to be presented at the meeting.


Contact: Jeremy Moore
American Association for Cancer Research

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