BreastCancerAnswers reached out to medical director Dr. Jay K. Harness for his reaction to breaking breast cancer news. In this video, Dr. Harness discusses the new T-DM1 “smart bomb” drug and how this breakthrough could affect treatment of breast cancer.
Jay K. Harness, MD: The American Society of Clinical Oncology is holding its annual meeting in Chicago, Illinois and a major news story has been released from that meeting and this is about an entity called a Smart Bomb, and I am going to get into a little more definition of what that is, and particularly what is means to you but let me first of all give some background information.
The first thing I want to talk about is that TDM-1 is the name of the researched drug, and TDM1 is combining Herceptin with a very toxic chemical, which you cannot normally give to patients unless it is bound to something and part of TDM1 that has an additional chemical that combines the Herceptin with a toxic chemical making that it compound that can then latch onto HER2/neu positive breast cancer cells.
Well, like so many things that we do when we try things new often, the clinical trials began with patients who are stage IV and now the term for that is called advance breast cancer but this trial has been released at the annual meeting of ASCO focuses on nearly 1000 patients treated over the past two years with TDM1. This is combined combination of things, which is then labelled a Smart Bomb. I think it is really kind of neat. It is not actually a bomb but the concept I think you get and one of the things that I think that is really important about this is, this is another example of targeted therapies, which is were all treatments and all cancers need to go. We are just very fortunate that in a world of breast cancer, we are often a little bit ahead of the curve because of all the wonderful research support we have had on multiple fronts.
So what happens then in a trial like this is if you see a dramatic difference and let me just quote to you from the news release that I have got here. After two years, 65% of the women who received TDM1 were still alive versus only 47% of those who are in the standard therapy group. Now, that number is so important and significant that it was very very close to the point of actually shutting the trial down to saying this is really a huge major breakthrough and ________ obviously more research is going to need to be done.
What is going to happen probably what is going to happen is that later this year we are hoping that the FDA will approve TDM1 or whatever the new name for this will be, so that it is available for clinical use, importantly to me in HER2/neu positive breast cancers and remember, this only make-up about 20% of all breast cancers. Hopefully then the TDM1 drug, whatever it is going to be called in the future, will then be used in the neoadjuvant setting. In other words, before stage IV, the shrink down HER2/neu positive cancers and/or in the adjunctive setting after somebody’s has already been operated upon for HER2/neu positive breast cancer.
Now we have got here at Breast Cancer Answer at least one quote from national news outlet. I am going to ask other experts to comment on this. There is a lot of buzz, if you will, about this. For me, personally, having been involved in the filed now for nearly 28 years, this is really important news. I think it opens up where the future of all cancer is going to go, it excites me no end. Hopefully this information will be important and exciting to you as well.