Drug combination shrinks breast cancer metastases in brain

Dec 16, 2007

A combination of a "targeted" therapy and chemotherapy shrank metastatic brain tumors by at least 50 percent in one-fifth of patients with aggressive HER2-positive breast cancer, according to data presented by Dana-Farber Cancer Institute investigators at the San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium.

Lapatinib (Tykerb) and capecitabine (Xeloda) were paired in an extension of a Phase 2 clinical trial in which lapatinib given alone shrank brain metastases significantly in six percent of 241 patients.

In the extension trial, capecitabine was added to lapatinib in 49 patients whose metastases -- cancerous colonies in the brain spread from their primary cancer -- had progressed while on treatment. With the combination therapy, brain metastases shrank by 20 percent or more in 18 patients (37 percent) and shrank by at least 50 percent in 10 patients (20 percent), reported Nancy Lin, MD, of Dana-Farber's Breast Oncology Center.

"Very few medications have shown activity in the treatment of brain metastases, particularly in HER-2-positive metastatic breast cancer patients," said Lin, who led the study with Eric Winer, MD, director of the Dana-Farber Breast Oncology Center. "Therefore, these data are quite encouraging, and further studies are warranted."

Lapatinib is an oral small-molecule drug from GlaxoSmithKline that is approved along with capecitabine for treating patients with advanced or metastatic breast cancer whose tumors are driven by the abnormal growth signal, HER-2, and who have already undergone therapy including trastuzumab (Herceptin), a taxane drug, and an anthracycline compound. Lapatinib, like trastuzumab, blocks the HER-2 signal.

Up to one-third of women with advanced, HER-2-positive breast cancer may develop metastases to the brain.

"Although radiation treatment is often effective, as women live longer with metastatic cancer, some develop worsening of brain metastases despite radiation," said Lin. "Because cancer in the brain can have a major impact on quality of life, it is important to have treatment options to address this problem."

Source: Dana-Farber Cancer Institute

Explore further: New research leads to FDA approval of first drug to treat radiation sickness

Related Stories

Exposing breast cancer using nanoscale polymers

May 13, 2015

Photoacoustic imaging is a ground-breaking technique for spotting tumors inside living cells with the help of light-absorbing compounds known as contrast agents. A*STAR researchers have now discovered a way ...

Report details benefits of investment in basic research

Apr 27, 2015

Last year was a notable one for scientific achievements: In 2014, European researchers discovered a fundamental new particle that sheds light on the origins of the universe, and the European Space Agency ...

Lightbulb using graphene is to go on sale this year

Mar 30, 2015

The BBC reported on Saturday that a graphene bulb is set for shops, to go on sale this year. UK developers said their graphene bulb will be the first commercially viable consumer product using the super- ...

Researchers use silk to cultivate organ tissues in the lab

Apr 02, 2015

Few organs in the body are as complicated as the human brain, a tight spiderweb of neurons that shoots electrical signals across synapses to control all our thoughts and movements. When something goes wrong—as ...

Recommended for you

Vortex device makes for better cancer treatments

19 hours ago

A South Australian invention, responsible for unboiling an egg, has been used to produce a four-fold increase in efficacy of carboplatin, a commonly used drug for ovarian, lung and other cancer. ...

Using healthy skin to identify cancer's origins

May 21, 2015

Normal skin contains an unexpectedly high number of cancer-associated mutations, according to a study published in Science. The findings illuminate the first steps cells take towards becoming a cancer and de ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.