Major study shoots for personalized breast cancer drugs

By Dr Anjali Patwardhan

Mutations in BCRA1 and BCRA2 genes are mainly associated with increased risk of breast cancer in women. Recently many other genetic variants have been found to be associated with breast cancer.

On 17 March researchers launched a new study to test five new breast cancer drugs. In this study, DNA of each patient will be tested on the basis of their molecular cancer biomarkers with each of the new drugs to find out which drugs won’t be useful or will be too toxic.

Dr. Anna Barker, the deputy director of National Cancer Institute said that the patients will get the latest and greatest in terms of targeted drugs. According to her for the companies alone or the government it would not have been possible and this type of collaborative research is the future for drug development. She also said this approach could apply to other diseases and other cancers. For this project three companies and non profits groups will co-operate with the U.S. government.

In this case the consortium participants have agreed to exchange information in the use of genes to foresee a patient’s response to drugs. The U.S. FDA and National Institute of Health are also part of the Biomaker Consortium.

The title of the study is “Investigation of Serial Studies to Predict your Therapeutic Response with Imaging and Molecular Analysis” or in short I-SPY2.

Dr. Laura Esserman who is a breast cancer surgeon at the  University of California, San Francisco said that I-SPY2 will provide a path to personalized medicine. Dr Laura will lead the clinical trials for this study.

The five drugs included in the trial are ABT-888 or veliparib (being developed by Abott labs), AMG 655 or conatumumab and AMG 386 (being developed by Amgen) and CP-751, 871 or figitumumab and HKI-272 or neratinib (being developed by Pfizer). The group of these companies is negotiating with other ‘pharma’ companies to add their experimental drugs in this trial in order to speed up the whole process.

Patients from 20 cancer centers will receive the treatment after testing of biopsy from them. Before they go for surgery they will be treated with one of the trial drugs to check if the drug can control the spread of the cancer. Up to 12 drugs will be tested in the trial. Safeway Inc’s charitable foundation is the major fund contributor with Johnson & Johnson, Roche AG subsidiary of Genentech and Eli Lilly as other contributors. The expected cost of the study is 26 million dollars.

If the study succeeds then it will be possible to treat patients with drugs that better match their needs and cost and time for new drug development will also be reduced.


The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of News Medical.
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