A new study published Saturday in the New England Journal of Medicine found a combination of chemotherapy and antibody medicine…
It’s good news for women with triple-negative breast cancer, an aggressive and difficult to treat forms of breast cancer aimed at women under the age of 50.
A new study published on Saturday in the New England Journal of Medicine found a combination of chemotherapy and antibody medicine taught women’s own immune systems to attack cancer cells, in some cases prolong life for almost a year.
“This is the first time immunotherapy has worked so hard to treat cancer, and is a big step forward for these breast cancer patients,” said lead writer Dr. Peter Schmid from the Queen Mary University of London in a statement. results at the European Society for the Medical Oncology Conference in Munich, Germany on Saturday.
“This is a real advance that will enable us to help more people,” says Sloan Kettering oncologist Dr. Larry Norton, who was not involved in the study. “Once we have received approval from the authorities, I think the expectation is that this will change the standard of care.”
If one in ten of all breast cancer is triple-negative, according to the National Breast Cancer Foundation. It is likely that it affects Latin American and African-American women and those with a BRCA1 gene mutation. to attack women in the 40’s and 50’s.
“It is especially tragic that the victims are often young,” said Schmid and is likely to continue raising families. “We have desperately been looking for better treatment options.”
When breast cancer cells test negative for estrogen, progesterone or human epidermal growth factor 2 (HER2), it is called a triple-negative breast cancer. Therefore, it does not respond to any of the available hormonal cancer treatments.
It answers chemotherapy. However, for most women, cancer cells are rapidly developing resistance to the chemo. It allows for aggressive cancer to spread to other parts of the body, which reduces survival rates.
In this trial, the combination of drug and chemo progression-free survival with 10 months for some women found the study. The risk of cancer spreading to other parts of the body and the risk of death also decreased by up to 40%.
“This is just the beginning of breast cancer immunotherapy,” said Norton, who acts as director of Evelyn H. Lauder Breast Center at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center.
Researchers learn “so much and so fast about other ways to stimulate the immune system”, Norton says he predicts a “designed study that will drive the agenda forward.”
The new treatment combines the immunotherapy drug atezolizumab and traditional chemotherapy.
In a normal state, the immune system will not attack cancer cells because they are seen as part of the body. That’s where atezolizumab comes in. It is an antibody that attaches to the cancer cell. It is the job to disable a protein called PD-L1, which is responsible for telling the immune system “Do not attack me.”
Chemotherapy is also needed to “groove” the outside of the cancer cell, Schmid explained. It allows the newly immune system to recognize and attack the invader.
“We use chemotherapy to tear away the tumor’s” immune protection cover “to reveal it,” said Schmid, “which enables people’s own immune system to access it.”
The Phase 3 study followed more than 900 women enrolled in 246 sites in 41 countries, randomly assigned to receive atezolizumab and kemo, or placebo and kemo.
Standard chemotherapy was given weekly. Atezolizumab was given intravenously every two weeks.
The women who received immunotherapy and chemo survived without carcinogens an average of 7.5 months, more than two months longer than women who used chemotherapy and placebo.
In women who tested positive for PD-L1, especially high levels of protein, the answer was even better. At the end of the trial, women had added another 2.5 progression-free months in their lives.
“We are especially encouraged by the fact that some patients live without recurrence for a long time,” says Norton. “Finding out why these patients do so much better than others will be one of the important topics for future research.”
The trial was funded by Roche, the manufacturer of atezolizumab.