FDA approves breakthrough breast cancer drug
  • Mon, 06/11/2012 - 2:57pm

In an unprecedented breakthrough in breast cancer research, the FDA approved a new drug that should improve on the treatment of one of the most deadly forms of breast cancer to date, HER2-positive.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        
The drug known as Pertuzumab, or more popularly as Perjeta, was officially approved last Friday and became the first drug approved to treat this incurable form of cancer since 1998, when Herceptin was approved. Both drugs were developed by Genentech, which is owned by the Roche Holding AG company, with Perjeta being the less toxic and better form of treatment for the most incurable form of breast cancer, which is found in about a quarter of all patients with the disease.
 
According to the San Francisco Chronicle, doctors plan to use Perjeta in conjunction with Herceptin and a chemotherapy drug called Taxotere in order to treat the HER2-positive form of breast cancer. Herceptin has been a poor form of treatment on its own due to the human body developing a resistance to it. Combined with Perjeta, its antibodies can bind to any receptor on the protein molecule that is produced by the cancer gene, which becomes more effective when combined with Herceptin and Taxotere. The antibodies prevent the molecule from sending signals that cause the mutated cancer cells to multiply. Many trials were conducted and the results showed that Perjeta delayed the growth of tumors by six more months than Herceptin.
 
Much like Gleevic, the breakthrough drug used to treat leukemia, doctors and patients hope that Perjeta will be the answer to breast cancer sufferers’ prayers. However, there will be a few setbacks for some people who are on a fixed income in this economy as Genentech projects that Perjeta will cost around $5900. Also, Genentech has stated that the initial high demand of the drug could lead to low supplies due to the possibility of low production. And while some patients may worry that the use of Perjeta with multiple drugs and chemotherapy will increase the risk of side effects, the benefit appears to outweigh the risk.

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