Roche's T-DM1 was back in the spotlight in Stockholm as well. In a mid-stage trial of 137 women with advanced breast cancer, the treatment triggered a 41% drop in the risk of disease progression when compared with the results for the standard combo of Herceptin and Taxotere. And the T-DM1 treatment arm also experienced far fewer severe side effects.
"I find this data incredibly promising and exciting, but we'll have to wait" for Phase III results, UCLA investigator Sara Hurvitz tells Bloomberg.
The positive data is also a boon to ImmunoGen, which is partnered on the "armed antibody," a new approach to targeting cancer cells with a powerful therapeutic. T-DM1 combines Herceptin with a powerful chemotherapy that had to be shelved back in the 80s after it proved too toxic. By delivering the payload right onto cancer cells, though, the treatment avoids damaging healthy tissue.
"It is noteworthy that single-agent therapy with trastuzumab emtansine demonstrated both efficacy and tolerability advantages over Herceptin given with separate chemotherapy," commented ImmunoGen CEO Daniel Junius. "We expect the body of impressive clinical results to grow substantially as the number of later-stage trials underway with TAP compounds continues to increase."
PLUS: One of the reasons these new cancer drugs are gaining so much attention, obviously, has to do with the billions of dollars that can be garnered from these very expensive therapies. But even as these new cancer drugs are changing the standard of care, the sticker price is forcing experts to consider the costs against the potential for marginal median increases in survival rates. "The cancer community needs to take responsibility and not accept a sub-standard evidence base and an ethos of very small benefit at whatever cost," notes the Lancet Oncology medical journal. Report