Oncologists are hopeful a drug developed by AstraZeneca and Daiichi Sankyo will change how doctors treat the most common type of late-stage breast cancer, after data showed it doubled the progression-free survival rates of patients compared with chemotherapy.
Research presented at the world’s largest cancer research conference on Sunday demonstrated that Enhertu — an antibody treatment targeting cancers linked to a protein called HER2 — also significantly improved the overall survival rates of patients when the disease had spread throughout their bodies.
It marks the first time such a targeted therapy has improved survival rates in patients suffering from HER2-low metastatic breast cancer, a category that covers up to half of all late-stage breast cancer patients.
Jane Lowe Meisel, a cancer expert at the American Society of Clinical Oncology, said the results presented at the organisation’s annual meeting would “redefine” how doctors classify breast cancer and significantly expand the population of patients who could benefit from drugs targeting the HER2 protein.
The clinical trial of more than 550 patients found those using the drug had a 49 per cent reduction in risk of the cancer progressing and a 36 per cent reduction in risk of death compared to those who received the standard form of chemotherapy treatment. It recorded progression-free survival, the time during which the tumour was stable or shrank, of 10.1 months with Enhertu, compared with 5.4 months for those who received chemotherapy.
Both companies told the Financial Times they would use the trial results — due to be published in the New England Journal of Medicine — to seek approval from global regulators to target this new category of breast cancer patients with Enhertu.
“This is not only a breakthrough, it is practice-changing,” said Gilles Gallant, Daiichi’s global head of oncology development.
He said Daiichi was conducting studies on early-stage breast cancer patients to…
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