An exciting new breast cancer immunotherapy is being called a “miracle drug” by both journalists and several leading oncologists at this year’s American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) meetings in Chicago.

The star performer is called T-DM1.  This new form of immunotherapy uses a combination of activated antibodies and a cytoxic agent to target breast cancer cells without making a patient sick.

The therapy uses an antibody, called Herceptin, to deliver a chemotherpy agent that stops cancer cells from dividing.

Herceptin has been around for a while.  It has been used as a targeted therapy for women with difficult to treat HER2-positive breast cancer for three years or so.  And using it has helped 30% of patients fight-off their aggressive cancer for a year or two.  But something was missing.  Until now.

In an ongoing Phase II clinical trial, 45% of women who had become resistant to an average of seven different therapies responded to the new drug.  That is an unusually high percentage for a cancer trial of last resort like this one.  And over 30% of patients in the T-DM1 arm of the study actually saw their tumors shrink, which is very unusual for advanced stage breast cancer.

All of this is great news for breast cancer patients that had run out of options. 

As you might imagine, the drug is expected to work much better on patients when the cancer is caught earlier.  Most of the patients in this initial study were already stage 3 or 4.  That’s what makes the 45% number so remarkable. 

So while we all feel badly for the 55% of patients that didn’t respond to the drug, these are still very impressive numbers in the world of oncology.

GREAT!  But that isn’t even the best part of the story. 

Researchers have been working toward an immunotherapy breakthrough like this one for nearly a decade!  

Let’s take a closer look at how this successful trial might help researchers make gains in fighting other types of cancer tomorrow.

Until then, feel good and keep smiling!  Pat

 

 

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