Roche and Genentech have announced the latest results from the HERA study performed by the Breast International Group (BIG).
Historically, HER2 positive breast cancer has been associated with a
poor prognosis, but the first analysis of the HERA trial, released in
2005, established unprecedented benefits in terms of lowering the risk
of cancer returning (disease-free survival).
The latest HERA (HERceptin Adjuvant) study analysis showed that women treated with
Herceptin (trastuzumab) had a 25% reduction in the risk of their cancer coming back
compared to women who did not receive Herceptin, and after an average of four years, almost 90% of the Herceptin-treated
women were still alive. In addition to the significant treatment
benefit, the analysis confirmed the long-term safety profile of
Herceptin, with good cardiac safety and tolerability maintained
throughout the four-year follow-up period.
There are now data from four large studies – HERA, NSABP B-31, NCCTG N9831 and BCIRG 006 that have
consistently demonstrated that Herceptin prolongs survival in women
with HER2 positive early breast cancer.
Herceptin is approved for the adjuvant treatment of
HER2-overexpressing, node-positive or node-negative (ER/PR-negative or
with one high-risk feature) breast cancer. These results are reassuring to HER2-positive women that their lives are significantly prolonged on treatment with the therapy.
Yesterday, I met the lovely Joanne Gere from the Bioanalytics Group, who pointed me in the direction of an interesting abstract on Herceptin from 2005 at the San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium, which demonstrated the effective combination of computer modeling and immunohistochemistry to predict the most likely patient outcomes after treatment with Herceptin. The data suggested that efficacy could be drastically improved from 41.67% to 74.07% by selecting patients most likely to respond using a panel of biomarkers. This would add to the weight of evidence for personalised medicine and appropriate therapy by pre-selecting women most like to respond to Herceptin.