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According to results recently presented at the 2005 San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium (SABCS), a novel agent referred to as E7389 provides anticancer responses and disease stabilization in patients with advanced breast cancer whose disease has progressed following standard chemotherapy.

Metastatic breast cancer refers to cancer that has spread from the breast to distant sites in the body. Standard treatment for metastatic breast cancer typically consists of chemotherapy.

Although women treated with chemotherapy may initially achieve an anticancer response, or a disappearance of detectable disease, the majority will experience a recurrence of their cancer. Once the cancer stops responding to standard therapies or progresses within 6 months of therapy, it is referred to as refractory breast cancer. Patients with refractory breast cancer are left with limited effective treatment options, particularly if they have received extensive prior therapies.

E7389 is a promising new agent that is still in clinical trials. It is a synthetic version of an agent found in a marine sponge that demonstrated significant anticancer activity in pre-clinical trials. E7389 blocks cells from being able to grow and replicate.

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Researchers recently conducted a clinical trial to evaluate E7389 as treatment for refractory breast cancer. This trial included 68 women who had received at least two prior chemotherapy regimens, including the most commonly used chemotherapy agents: anthracyclines and taxanes. E7389 was given as a single agent with no premedication required.

  • 15% of patients achieved a partial regression of their cancer.
  • Nearly one-third of patients achieved disease stabilization.
  • The most common side effect was low levels of immune cells was.
  • Other mild or moderate side effects included nausea, fatigue, dehydration, shortness of breath, joint pain, and alterations in sensation of the hands and feet.

The researchers concluded that treatment with E7389 appears promising for the treatment of patients with metastatic breast cancer who have stopped responding to standard chemotherapy-a difficult stage of disease to treat. Furthermore, this agent appeared to be well tolerated in this group of patients. This trial is still ongoing; updated results will be presented when mature.

Reference: Silberman S, O’Shaughnessy J, Vahdat L, et al. E7389, a Novel Anti-Tubulin, is Safe and Effective in Patients with Refractory Breast Cancer. Proceedings from the 28th annual San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium. December 2005. Abstract #1063.

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