Incurable breast cancer: a new "smart drug" gives hope

The "sacituzumab govitecan" has significantly advanced treatments for metastatic triple negative breast cancer, extremely difficult to treat today.

New "smart drug" has shown promise for women with triple-negative metastatic breast cancer, according to data from a new clinical trial published in the US New England Journal of Medicine.
"I think this drug has the potential to change practices, because the data seems really convincing, even though the number of patients participating in the trial is relatively small," says Kevin Kalinsky, oncologist and trial director. "With this new treatment, we have seen a significant narrowing of tumors in patients with triple negative metastatic breast cancer," he adds.

Several types of breast cancer

There are several types of breast cancer. For the most frequent, hormone-dependent breast cancers and "HER +" cancers, today there are highly effective targeted therapies. But 15% of patients, often young, have breast cancer called "triple negative", that is to say without any known marker on the surface of cancer cells likely to respond to a known targeted therapy *.

Triple negative cancer is "a biological concept: these are cancer cells on which we do not find a hormone receptor, which means that they are not very dependent on the hormones manufactured by women, so we can not hormone therapy is not found on the surface of cells HER2 protein is the main target of a treatment called Trastuzumab, very powerful.It is like orphan tumors, "explained recently Gilles Freyer, oncologist and department head at the University Hospital of Lyon.

33% of patients responded to the drug

The drug tested here, named "sacituzumab govitecan", is part of an emerging class of "smart drugs," designed to deliver a toxic load directly to tumor cells. Concretely, direct injection makes it possible to deliver much higher doses than with other types of treatment.
Sacituzumab govitecan was tested in 108 women with triple-negative metastatic breast cancer who had taken at least two previous treatments. Overall, 33% of patients responded to the drug after 7.7 months on average. The median overall survival of the cohort was 13 months, which is much better than normal (when a patient starts their third or fourth treatment, the probability of a response is very low).

"Living with smaller tumors"

"It took longer for the cancer to progress," continues Kevin Kalinsky. He adds, "living with smaller tumors can incredibly improve a patient's quality of life," for example, in pain. Sacituzumab govitecan is also tested on bladder cancer and prostate cancer.

* Source: Institut Curie.

Video: When Breast Cancer is No Longer Curable (December 2019).