Friday, June 1, 2012

T-DM1 Shows a Way to Deliver Chemo Without Side Effects

Two months ago, Trastuzumab Emtansine (T-DM1) metastatic breast cancer trial (called EMILIA trial) reached a major milestone when patients treated with T-DM1 had longer cancer-free periods, also called progression-free survival or PFS, compared to those patients who were on a combination chemotherapy consisting of lapatinib (Tykerb) and capecitabine (Xeloda). (read here).  Today, NBC Nightly News gave a human face to this trial.

NBC Nightly News anchor Lester Holt and NBC's Chief medical correspondent Robert Bazell profiled a story of one such woman whose breast cancer had spread all over her body and into her bones.  T-DM1 brought her back from the brink without the toxic side-effects of chemotherapy.  

The story also re-iterates the ability of armed antibodies to target and deliver chemotherapy drugs directly to cancer cells.  In T-DM1 the deadly toxin (chemo drug) is maytansine which is directly delivered to the breast cancer cells expressing HER-2 receptor on cell surface.

Transcript of the video (with corrections):

LESTER HOLT >>> we've got some good news to report tonight about fighting cancer. researchers found a new class of drugs that kill the cancer without ruining the patient's quality of life. chief science correspondant robert bizell has the story of a woman with advanced breast cancer who now has a new lease on life.

>> reporter (ROBERT BAZELL):  with two young kids always on the move, 47-year-old fern seidovitz is happy to have her energy and life back. far different picture from 2009 when her stage four breast cancer had spread to her body including her bones. her doctors gave her herceptin, that needs to be combined with standard chemotherapy drugs that have severe side effects, including hair loss.

>>(FERN) i felt nauseous, absolutely sick.

>> reporter:  the combination worked for a year but the cancer returned and when it did, doctors had a new experimental option called t-dm1. they covered the herceptin antibody with a powerful toxin. it delivers the poison directly, sparing the healthy cells and eliminating the need for additional thee mow chemo therapy.

>>(Dr. KIMBERLY BLACKWELL) the fact that we have been successful in proving that you can actually get chemotherapy straight to the cancer cells by using this magic bullet is really a dream that's being realized at this meeting.

>> (FERN) whoa, give me five!

>> reporter:  when seidovitz got the new drug, not only did her cancer go into remission, the treatment carried new few side effects.

>> (FERN) i've not lost my hair or eyebrows, i don't feel sick, my insides don't feel raw. my fingernails are not turning black and i'm not losing my fingernails.

>> reporter:  in a major cancer conference starting today in chicago design 'tis scientists will also present many activated ant bodies. fern is thrilled with the news.

>> (FERN) it's amazing if we have this treatment for every type of cancer.

>> reporter:  many scientists believe there will be such therapies for many cancers opening a new year in cancer treatment that could preserve the quality of life for cancer patients. robert bazell, nbc news, chicago.

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For other posts on breast cancer, click here.

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