A drug called Enhertu reportedly extended survival of advanced breast cancer patients by more than six months, according to new data sets disclosed this past weekend.
The promising data was revealed Sunday at an American Society of Clinical Oncology meeting in Chicago.
“That really puts a lot of confidence that the benefit that we’re seeing here is absolutely real,” said David Fredrickson, executive vice president of pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca’s oncology unit, Reuters reported.
AstraZeneca, along with pharmaceutical company Daiichi Sankyo, developed the drug, which is administered to patients as an intravenous infusion.
“The ongoing phase III trial involves over 550 patients with so-called HER2-low breast cancer – most with tumours that were hormone-sensitive — whose disease had spread and had undergone at least one round of chemotherapy,” the report outlined. “The interim analysis showed Enhertu prolonged survival by an additional 6.4 months in patients with hormone-sensitive tumours. Patients in the group lived for a median of 23.9 months versus 17.5 months for chemotherapy.”
“In the small group of patients with hormone-insensitive tumours, patients on Enhertu lived 6.3 months longer,” Reuters added.
Enhertu “has been linked to a type of lung scarring called interstitial lung disease (ILD),” the report warned. “Forty-five Enhertu patients in the trial had varying degrees of ILD versus one in the chemotherapy group.”
The drug is currently being “evaluated for use in earlier stages of breast cancer, as well as lung and colorectal cancers, among others. It has secured approval in HER2-driven gastric cancer,” Reuters said.
“As far as breast cancer goes, I’d say at least in the next few years, I’m pretty sure in Enhertu is going to kind of finish revolutionising the treatment paradigm,” said Informa Pharma Custom Intelligence’s Tara Hansen.
On the same day the Enhertu data sets were revealed, a paper outlining results from a small cancer trial that left every patient in remission was published at The New England Journal of Medicine, The Daily Wire reported.
The paper outlined a study of 18 rectal cancer patients who were given dostarlimab every three weeks for six months and ended up cancer-free, including the first patient who is now two years out from the trial.
“I believe this is the first time this has happened in the history of cancer,” said Dr. Luis A. Diaz Jr. said, an author of the paper, The New York Times reported.
Dr. Andrea Cercek, an oncologist at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center and another author of the paper, described “a lot of happy tears” at the end of the trial.
While noting the study needs replication, Dr. Kimmie Ng, a colorectal cancer expert at Harvard Medical School, called the trial results “remarkable” and “unprecedented.”
“We initiated a prospective phase 2 study in which single-agent dostarlimab, an anti–PD-1 monoclonal antibody, was administered every 3 weeks for 6 months in patients with mismatch repair–deficient stage II or III rectal adenocarcinoma,” the study said. “This treatment was to be followed by standard chemoradiotherapy and surgery.”
Those who took the drug, which “unmasks cancer cells, allowing the immune system to identify and destroy them,” according to the Times, did not have to move on to further cancer treatments.
All the patients “had a clinical complete response, with no evidence of tumor on magnetic resonance imaging,” the paper explained. “At the time of this report, no patients had received chemoradiotherapy or undergone surgery, and no cases of progression or recurrence had been reported during follow-up (range, 6 to 25 months). No adverse events of grade 3 or higher have been reported.”
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