Trials Show Promise with New Breast Cancer Drugs

breast cancer

Advanced stage breast cancer used to mean either death or serious health complications for the rest of the individual’s life. However, new drug trials have shown that new drugs may work to give women with advanced breast cancer a chance at survival and a life after treatment.

The two drugs, neratinib and veliparib, underwent trials on specific women with breast cancer, using patients’ genetic information to determine the efficacy of the drugs. The American Cancer Society has stated that what is known as adaptive design will be the “wave of the future” in terms of treating cancer.

It was found that nerantinib stopped the spread of cancer in 56 percent of women with the HER2-positive, hormone-receptor-negative breast cancer. This was compared to 33 percent of women in a control group who took chemotherapy alone.

Veliparib was almost equally effective, though on women with triple negative breast cancer. For this group, they were able to stop the spread of cancer 51 percent of the time, compared to 26 percent of the control group who underwent chemotherapy.

Dr. Laura Esserman, who is the director of breast cancer care at the University of California, San Francisco’s Comprehensive Cancer Center, said:

“The whole idea of the framework is to allow us to be more innovative and thoughtful, and to drive faster to combinations that might make a huge difference in the response to these agents in women who need them most.”

These trials, which are known as the I-SPY Trials, are using a 70-gene panel to discover which medication may work for which patients.

Dr. Otis Brawley, chief medical officer for the American Cancer Society, stated:

“The real aim here is to use the smallest number of people in the shortest period of time to figure out if a drug works. It’s especially important to do that as we learn that the number of diseases that we’re going to be testing these drugs on is increasing exponentially as we better understand and define cancer genomically [based on genes].”

These results are not conclusive, but definitely show promise. They are from a phase 2 trial and the drugs will continue to a phase 2 international trial to confirm what has been proven in stage 2. Let’s hope the potential solutions are sound, and aren’t accompanied by harsh side effects.


US National Library of Medicine