According to results recently presented at the 2007 annual San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium, the combination of Omnitarg™ (pertuzumab) plus Herceptin® (trastuzumab) provides significant anticancer activity among women with human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2)-positive breast cancer whose disease had progressed while on therapy with Herceptin alone.
Human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 is part of a biological pathway that is involved in growth and spread of cancer cells. Several types of cancers overexpress HER2, including approximately 25–30% of breast cancers. HER2 also interacts with other receptors that are considered part of the human epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) pathway. These interactions play another integral role in the growth and spread of many cancers.
Herceptin is an agent that is targeted against HER2 and helps to slow or stop the spread of cancer cells that over express HER2. Herceptin is often used in combination with chemotherapy for the treatment of breast cancer that over expresses HER2. The success of Herceptin has motivated researchers to explore more targeted agents. Many of these agents are currently being evaluated in clinical trials for various types of cancers.
Although Omnitarg is still in clinical trials, the last phase of clinical trials for its evaluation, Phase III, has already been planned. Omnitarg is a targeted agent that prevents or reduces the ability of HER2 to interact with other receptors in the EGFR pathway.
Researchers involved in an international study recently conducted a clinical trial to evaluate the combination of Omnitarg and Herceptin in the treatment of HER2-positive breast cancer. This trial included 33 women with advanced breast cancer that had progressed while they were treated with Herceptin alone.
- More than two-thirds of patients experienced anticancer responses with the combination of Omnitarg and Herceptin.
- One patient experienced a complete disappearance of detectable cancer.
- Five patients experienced a partial regression of their cancer.
- Seventeen patients experienced a stabilization of their cancer.
- Side effects were generally mild and included diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, rash, muscle spasms, cough, headache, shortness of breast, and inflammation of the throat.
- No patient withdrew from the trial due to side effects.
- Ten patients experienced cancer progression.
The researchers concluded that the combination of Omnitarg and Herceptin provides anticancer responses in patients with HER2-postive breast cancer that has progressed during treatment with Herceptin alone. In addition, this treatment combination was well tolerated.
Patients with breast cancer that has progressed on Herceptin may wish to speak with their physician regarding their individual risks and benefits of participating in a clinical trial further evaluating Omnitarg or other novel therapies. Two sources of information regarding ongoing clinical trials include the National Cancer Institute (www.cancer.gov) and www.eCancerTrials.com.
Reference: Fumoleau P, Wardley A, Miles D, et al. Safety of pertuzumab plus trastuzumab in a phase II trial of patients with HER2-overexpressing metastatic breast cancer which had progressed during trastuzumab therapy. San Antonio Breast Conference 2007;abstract number 73.
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