Breast cancer news x3

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A triad of studies from the annual San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium brings welcome word from the breast cancer research arena. The first study the AZURE trial, which included 3,360 patients with stage II or stage III breast cancer found that women treated with zoledronic acid, a bisphosphonate osteoporosis drug also used to treat bone disorders in women with metastatic breast cancer, experienced no overall increased survival rate. However, a subset of patients who were five or more years past menopause did see a 29 percent drop in their mortality rate from the disease, suggesting that although the drug may not improve survival rates in younger women with breast cancer, it may have value for older, postmenopausal women.

The second piece of good news comes from a mid-stage trial of 417 women newly diagnosed with breast cancer that found that patients who pre-operatively received a combination therapy of pertuzumab an experimental drug with Roche s Herceptin plus standard chemotherapy had a 46 percent rate of tumor eradication. Both drugs are designed to block HER2 receptor function, which is a protein implicated in approximately 25 percent of all diagnosed breast cancers.

Finally, the last study compared the efficacy of GlaxoSmithKline s Tykerb to Roche s Herceptin in treating patients with HER2-positive breast cancer. Researchers found that although Herceptin is more effective than Tykerb when administered alone, the most pronounced results were achieved when the drugs were used in combination in addition to standard chemotherapy. In the NeoALTTO trail, 455 HER2-positive breast cancer patients were recruited, and those that received Tykerb and Herceptin plus chemotherapy together demonstrated a 51.3 percent pathological complete response (PCR) rate, which is defined as the absence of invasive breast cancer cells at surgery or only non-invasive in situ breast cancer.

Though the study results speak for themselves, ACSH's Dr. Gilbert Ross adds that they all demonstrate a dramatic benefit in the treatment of invasive breast cancer. We can anticipate much more progress against this disease as more biotech drugs are developed against specific tumor antigens.