London, June 2 : A new drug, called Pertuzumab, related to the controversial drug Herceptin, may pave the way for new treatment of breast cancer.
Pertuzumab works in the same way as Herceptin by targeting the HER-2 gene found in 20 per cent of breast cancer patients.
However, the difference between the two lies in the fact that Herceptin blocks a molecular "switch" that promotes cancer growth, while Pertuzumab completely eradicates the possibility of having the switch at all.
This is the first drug to put into effect this sort of modus operandi. And when the scientists used the results of a "phase two" trial of this drug for treating advanced cancer patients, it showed promising results.
It was found that nearly one fourth of the 66 patients reported disappearance or shrinkage of their tumours. Also, the cancer completely vanished in 8 per cent of cases. In fact, a good 25 per cent of patients reported stabilisation of their cancers for at least six months.
It was found that all the patients in the study were at a stage in their illness where their disease was progressing despite treatment with Herceptin and Pertuzumab was administered as an additional therapy.
The scientists conducted their study at Mount Vernon Hospital, London, and announced it at the American Society of Clinical Oncology in Chicago.