Professor Nigel Bundred at the European Breast Cancer Conference in Amsterdam showed results for the combination of two drugs called Herceptin (a.k.a trastuzumab) and Lapatinib.
These two drugs have been used to treat breast cancer in the past, but they have never been combined together. They were astounded by results in which they found they got rid of some kinds on breast cancers in just 11 days.
The research was funded by Cancer Research UK, and their aim was to isolate a protein called HER2 (human epidermal growth factor receptor 2) which affects the growth and division of cancer cells.
The amazing thing about this treatment is that it was successful without the need for chemotherapy or radiotherapy, two of the harshest cancer treatments. Patients are often put off receiving these harsh treatments due to the extreme side effects like hair loss, intense nausea and fatigue.
257 women with HER2 positive breast cancer were selected for the study, half were given the drug combo and the other half were the control group. What they found was that of those on the drug, 11% had no cancer cells remaining within two weeks and 17% of cases featured dramatically shrunken tumors.
Compared to the control group who were only given Herceptin, they were found to have 0% with no trace of cancer cells and only 3% showed a drop in tumor size. This shows that the two drugs combined have a major effect on breast cancer cells as opposed to being used on their own.
There is a problem, however in that Herceptin’s licensing makes it only available for use alongside chemotherapy and not alone. Hopefully the result of this study will change this rule.
Although this is still the first steps, hopefully this research will pave the way for more successful breast cancer treatments in the future.