Breakthrough breast cancer drug stalls disease

A new breast cancer drug gives hope to sufferers of the disease by slowing growth of tumours

An experimental drug may stall the growth of aggressive forms of breast cancer whilst also reducing the side effects of chemotherapy.

The new drug, known as T-DM1, tackles the aggressive and difficult to treat HER2 strand of breast cancer by attacking the cells from within.

Around 1 in 5 of the 48000 cases of breast cancer in the UK are HER2-positive and could therefore benefit from this new treatment.

T-DM1 is known as an ‘antibody-drug conjugate’, combining both the drug Herceptin and chemotherapy in one dose.

It is the first drug of its kind for breast cancer and stalls the growth of the cancer whilst releasing the toxic chemotherapy into the cell.

Dr Lisa Wilde, Director of Research at Breast Cancer Campaign says: ‘This study is a positive development for women with advanced HER2-positive breast cancer, who currently have limited treatment options available to them.’

‘The trial evaluates a new way of combining chemotherapy and targeted therapy in one agent which could help delay the progression of secondary breast cancer as well as reduce the likelihood of some of the very unpleasant side effects such as vomiting, hair loss and fatigue,’ says Dr Emma Pennery, Clinical Director at Breast Cancer Care.

‘Importantly, it could mean improvements in quality and length of life,’ she says. A licence application will be made for the drugs availability in the UK and Europe and following authorisation, and could be made available to patients in less than a year.

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