Cancer Drug Advancement in Treating Breast Cancer With Fewer Side Effects

The American Society of Clinical Oncology announced during its Chicago meeting that a drug has the potential of attacking tumors without some of the usual side effects. The results, although not yet certain, point to prolonging the lives of breast cancer victims.

The treatment in clinical trials validates the method in which a drug is delivered to cancerous cells without harming healthy ones. “We’ve envisioned a world where cancer treatment would kill the cancer and not hurt the patient,” said Dr. Kimberly L. Blackwell, a professor of medicine at Duke Cancer Institute and a lead investigator in the clinical trial. Dr. Blackwell said this drug does that.

The drug, known as T-DM1, was developed by Genetech, which sponsored the trial. The company has indicated that it would ask for approval of the use of the drug later this year. That would mean the drug would be available for sale in 2013.

According to the report in the New York Times, T-DM1 and similar drugs under development have powerful toxins linked to proteins called antibodies. The antibodies attach themselves to the cancer cells and deliver the toxic drug directly into the cells. Because the toxin is not activated until it reaches the tumor, the side effects are reduced.

This treatment is known as antibody-drug conjugates. Another similar drug, Adcetris, was approved last year to treat two rare types of lymphoma.
T-DM1 would be a drug that would be used for more common cancers.

The late-stage trial included 991 women with metastatic breast cancer. In the study, half of the women received T-DM1, and the other half received two other drugs that are now commonly used for such patients. The study showed that among the women who received T-DM1, the worsening of the disease was delayed by 3 months.

The report said that it was too early to say that T-DM1 prolonged lives because not enough time had elapsed since the trial began.

Genetech tried without success to receive approval of T-DM1 in 2010 as a treatment for women who had run out of other options. At that time there was only a single trial and no control group. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration turned down the application, saying that all the treatment options had not been exhausted.

Kreisman Law Offices has been handling cases for individuals and families relating to medical matters for more than 36 years in and around Chicago, Cook County and its surrounding areas, including Chicago (Canaryville), Park Ridge, Villa Park, Lake Forest, Country Club Hills, South Holland, Matteson, Chicago (Beverly), Melrose Park and Elk Grove Village, Illinois.

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