Patients who suffer from HER2-positive breast cancer will now be able to use an additional weapon to fight the disease. According to CNN, a new experimental drug which cures breast cancer has been presented during the 2012 American Society of Clinical Oncology conference which was hosted on Sunday in Chicago.
Doctors’ main goal when treating cancer is to combat the cancerous cells without affecting the healthy ones. As a consequence, recent studies have helped them discover an experimental drug which significantly improves the condition of patients who have been diagnosed with HER2-positive breast cancer.
According to scientists’ description, the medicine was produced by combining two essential elements for chemotherapy: trastuzumab abbreviated as “T” and the powerful drug, emtansine, called “DM1”. T-DM1 is meant to help Herceptin keep the cancerous cells in place when the latter is no longer effective on its own.
Researchers claim that T-DM1 is capable of delivering Herceptin to the cancer cell, thus ensuring better results against the disease. Doctors have described it like a carrier pigeon which is used to deliver the DM1 drug to the cell and kill the cancer. DM1 is too toxic to be administered through blood like the rest of the chemotherapy drugs; therefore, Herceptin was used because it does not affect the healthy cells.
The results of the study are considered to be extremely useful for all patients, but particularly for those who suffer of HER-2 positive breast cancer. Based on the recent statistics, 20% to 25% women suffer from this type of cancer which is considered to be very aggressive. Patients who were diagnosed with this disease didn’t have many options until the Food and Drug Administration approved Herceptin in 1998.
Herceptin is an engineered antibody which travels to the cancerous cell once released in the system. The medicine attaches to the surface of the cancer cell in order to block signals which tell the cancer to grow. Unfortunately, Herceptin stops working for patients with recurring cancer and doctors need to prescribe a combination of drugs. So far, they have been using capecitabine and lapatinib, but they might be using T-DM1 from now on, given the good results of the research.