Professor Nigel Bundred from the European Breast Cancer Conference in Amsterdam had a presentation of his study where along with the scientists they tested the effectiveness of a 2 types of drugs named Lapatinib and Herceptin (Trastuzumab). These meds have already been used for treating breast cancer, but now the scientists combined them together, being used before surgery and chemo, discovering that they can kill some types of cancer in just 11 days.
This study was founded by Cancer Research UK with the aim of the drugs to fight a protein named human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2). This is a protein which impacts the growth and multiplication of the cancer cells. Compared to the other types of cancer, this one is more likely to come back. The treatment actually does not require chemotherapy and surgery, without temporary side effects like hair loss, vomiting, fatigue, making the treatment less impactful on the body. Chemotherapy is a wrong choice for many patients, thus there are other options which are more than welcome.
Results of the study
There were 257 with HER2 positive breast cancer who participated into the study. Half of them were put on the drug combo, while the other group was the control one. 11% participants who were on the drug combo had no cancer cells after 2 weeks, while 17% had dramatically shrunken tumors. The control group was given Herceptin. They all had traces of cancer cells, and only 3% of this group showed drop in tumor size. The combo apparently showed a major effect on the breast cancer cells, as opposed to the drugs being used on their own.
However, there is one issue and it is that the licensing of Herceptin involves rules which approve the use of the medicine alongside chemotherapy, but no alone. There are hopes that the results of this study are going to change those rules as well.
More work is needed, however, this is a major step in the fight against the deadliest diseases. The improvements in medicine show clear signs that this will happen soon.