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Targeted agent addition to herceptin has positive effect on metastatic HER-2 breast cancer
Date:7/8/2011

Houston - Adding Afinitor to Herceptin, the main treatment for HER2-positive metastatic breast cancer, helps some women with disease that has been resistant to previous Herceptin-based therapies, according to a study led by researchers at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center and published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

The Phase I/II study demonstrated that a combination of the targeted therapies, which play different roles in cancer, offers a personalized therapy approach that can help some patients with advanced disease. Thirty-four percent of the women in the study benefited from the regimen.

About one in four breast cancer tumors is HER2-positive, which means it makes too much of the protein HER2, a human epidermal growth factor. This type of breast cancer often is more aggressive and difficult to treat.

"Herceptin (trastuzumab) works well for many patients, but about 30 percent of those with advanced disease do not respond to the drug, even combined with chemotherapy," said PK Morrow, M.D., assistant professor in the Department of Breast Medical Oncology and lead co-author of the study. "Even if metastatic HER2-positive breast cancer initially responds to Herceptin, the disease usually eventually progresses on standard Herceptin-based therapy."

Resistance to Herceptin has been linked to activation of the PI3K/mTOR cancer pathway. PTEN, a protein that acts as a tumor suppressor, can counteract P13K. However in the absence of PTEN, the mTOR cancer pathway may be activated. Afinitor (everolimus) overcomes resistance by inhibiting the mTOR pathway.

Bench-to-Bedside Research

"Combining these two agents offers patients with metastatic HER2-positive breast cancer a chemotherapy-free option," Morrow said. "Despite the fact that most of these women had received multiple chemotherapy regimens, this regimen offered additional clinical benefit and less toxicity for many of patients."'/>"/>

Contact: Laura Sussman
lsussman@mdanderson.org
713-745-2457
University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center
Source:Eurekalert

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