Study finds new triple drug combination increases tumour eradication in HER2-positive breast cancer by more than 50 percent compared with standard treatment

December 06, 2011

The addition of the monoclonal antibody pertuzumab to standard therapy (trastuzumab [Herceptin] plus the chemotherapy drug docetaxel) for women with an aggressive type of early-stage breast cancer (HER2-positive disease) improved the rate of complete tumour disappearance by more than half after just four cycles (12 weeks) of treatment compared with the standard regimen alone.

The striking findings of the phase 2 NeoSphere study, published Online First in the Lancet Oncology, also found that this combination without the addition of chemotherapy achieved tumour eradication in a sizeable proportion of women (17%) with none of the chemotherapy-associated toxicities, suggesting that it might be possible to treat some tumours without chemotherapy.

"The tumour response to this new triplet combination is one of the highest reported to date, despite just a short treatment time, and could be a big advance for women with HER-2 positive disease. Moreover, these findings suggest a potential future role for chemotherapy-free HER-2 targeted therapy, although such regimens require further investigation"*, explains lead author of the study Luca Gianni from the San Raffaele Cancer Center, Milan, Italy.

About one in five breast cancer tumours are HER-2 positive. Trastuzumab is a monoclonal antibody developed to block the cancer-causing activity of the HER2 protein and is the standard therapy for women with HER-2 positive disease. Pertuzumab is another HER-2 targeted drug that has a complementary mechanism of action to trastuzumab and has shown promising anti-tumour activity in a previous phase 2 trial of women with advanced HER-2 positive breast cancer.

The NeoSphere study was designed to compare different regimens of HER-2 targeted therapies with and without chemotherapy. The study included 417 previously untreated women with early HER-2 positive disease who were randomly assigned to receive four cycles of treatment before surgery with either: trastuzumab plus doctaxel; pertuzumab and trastuzumab plus doctaxel; trastuzumab plus pertuzumab; or pertuzumab plus docetaxel.

About 46% of women who received the new triple combination had a pathological complete response where the tumour completely disappeared, compared with 29% of women given standard therapy, and 17% given pertuzumab plus trastuzumab without chemotherapy.

Importantly, the new triple combination was well tolerated and did not significantly increase side effects or cardiac risk compared with the other regimens.

Less than 2% of women given the chemotherapy-free trastuzumab and pertuzumab regimen reported grade 3 or higher adverse events compared with 12% to 14% of women in the chemotherapy-containing treatment groups.

The authors conclude: "These findings justify further exploration in adjuvant trials and support the neoadjuvant [before surgery] approach for accelerating assessment in early breast cancer."
-end-
Professor Luca Gianni, San Raffaele Cancer Center, Milan, Italy. T) 39-02-2643-6529 E) Gianni.luca@hsr.it

Notes to Editors:

*Quote direct from author and cannot be found in text of article

Lancet

Related Cancer Articles from Brightsurf:

New blood cancer treatment works by selectively interfering with cancer cell signalling
University of Alberta scientists have identified the mechanism of action behind a new type of precision cancer drug for blood cancers that is set for human trials, according to research published in Nature Communications.

UCI researchers uncover cancer cell vulnerabilities; may lead to better cancer therapies
A new University of California, Irvine-led study reveals a protein responsible for genetic changes resulting in a variety of cancers, may also be the key to more effective, targeted cancer therapy.

Breast cancer treatment costs highest among young women with metastic cancer
In a fight for their lives, young women, age 18-44, spend double the amount of older women to survive metastatic breast cancer, according to a large statewide study by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Cancer mortality continues steady decline, driven by progress against lung cancer
The cancer death rate declined by 29% from 1991 to 2017, including a 2.2% drop from 2016 to 2017, the largest single-year drop in cancer mortality ever reported.

Stress in cervical cancer patients associated with higher risk of cancer-specific mortality
Psychological stress was associated with a higher risk of cancer-specific mortality in women diagnosed with cervical cancer.

Cancer-sniffing dogs 97% accurate in identifying lung cancer, according to study in JAOA
The next step will be to further fractionate the samples based on chemical and physical properties, presenting them back to the dogs until the specific biomarkers for each cancer are identified.

Moffitt Cancer Center researchers identify one way T cell function may fail in cancer
Moffitt Cancer Center researchers have discovered a mechanism by which one type of immune cell, CD8+ T cells, can become dysfunctional, impeding its ability to seek and kill cancer cells.

More cancer survivors, fewer cancer specialists point to challenge in meeting care needs
An aging population, a growing number of cancer survivors, and a projected shortage of cancer care providers will result in a challenge in delivering the care for cancer survivors in the United States if systemic changes are not made.

New cancer vaccine platform a potential tool for efficacious targeted cancer therapy
Researchers at the University of Helsinki have discovered a solution in the form of a cancer vaccine platform for improving the efficacy of oncolytic viruses used in cancer treatment.

American Cancer Society outlines blueprint for cancer control in the 21st century
The American Cancer Society is outlining its vision for cancer control in the decades ahead in a series of articles that forms the basis of a national cancer control plan.

Read More: Cancer News and Cancer Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.