Breast cancer is the most common cancer among women, about 1 and 8 American women will develop it in their lifetime. Those numbers are staggering, but the clinical trial that was conducted may us of it once and for all.
The research was presented at the European Breast Cancer Conference in Amsterdam by Professor Nigel Bundred. He revealed that his research team had tested the effectiveness of a pair of drugs called Herceptin and Lapatinib. Both of those drugs are used for the treatment of breast cancer, but this is the first time the two drugs have been combined together and used during surgery and chemotherapy. The results from the trial were that the two drugs actually eliminated some types of breast cancer in just 11 days! Bundred’s team was funded by Cancer Research UK, and they were aiming to use these two drugs to combat a protein called HER2.
HER2 affects the growth and division of cancer cells. This protein is more likely to return than any other type of cancer. What makes this breakthrough even more appealing is that it could completely cut the costs of chemotherapy and surgery.
Let’s go into a little more detail about the actual clinical trial. A total of 257 women with HER2 positive breast cancer were selected for the study. For the first round of testing 130 of the women were put into one of two groups – some women received Herceptin, and others received Lapatinib. Both groups were treated for 11 days after diagnosis and surgery.
The third group received no treatment. What they found was those who received the combination of both those drugs, 7 out of 66 women had zero cancer cells remaining within two weeks and an additional 11 women experienced a dramatically shrunken tumor.
The group that received only Herceptin, saw a 0% change in cancer cells and only 3% of the subjects saw a reduction in their tumor size. So it is clear that when the two drugs are used separate, they have almost no affect.
The issue at hand though is Herceptin is only available for use when it’s used alongside chemotherapy or alone. Hopefully the results from this study will change that licensing. Although there is still a lot of work to be done, the results from this study is a huge step in the fight against one of the world’s deadliest diseases. With technology continuously advancing, and our research teams working around the clock, it is possible that we will find a cure sooner than we think.