New HERizons: HER2-Positive Breast Cancer and the Legacy of Herceptin


Twenty years ago, no targeted treatments existed for breast cancers with high levels of a protein called HER2 (HER2-positive, or HER2+). The significance of HER2 in breast cancer had only been recognized in 1987, when excessive levels of the protein were identified in about 20% of breast cancers. Oncologists realized that high levels of HER2 mark a type of cancer with a poor prognosis, as compared to the predominant type of breast cancer: estrogen receptor-positive, HER2 negative (HER2-).

The possibility of targeting HER2 to treat cancer was fulfilled in 1998, when the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved Herceptin (generic name trastuzumab), for treatment of metastatic HER2+ breast cancer. Made by Genentech, Herceptin is a type of drug known as a humanized antibody, meaning that it mimics an immune system attack on tumor cells, specifically those with high levels of HER2. Now, 20 years later, it is easier to appreciate the significance of this drug, which literally changed the lives of many HER2+ breast cancer patients, and continues to do so today. Continue reading…


Neratinib/T-DM1 Combo Shows Promise in HER2-Positive Breast Cancer

Excerpt:

“The combination of neratinib (Nerlynx) and T-DM1 (ado-trastuzumab emtansine; Kadcyla) induced an overall response rate of 60% in previously-treated women with HER2-positive metastatic breast cancer, according to results from the phase Ib NSABP FB-10 study presented at the 2018 ASCO Annual Meeting.

“Among 12 of 20 evaluable patients with objective responses, 3 had a complete response and 9 had a partial response. An additional 2 patients had stable disease, and 6 patients had progressive disease.”

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AACR 2018: Acquired HER2 Mutations Confer Resistance to Hormone Therapy in ER-Positive Metastatic Breast Cancer

Excerpt:

“Mutations in HER2 were found to confer resistance to hormone therapy in some estrogen receptor (ER)-positive metastatic breast cancer cases, and resistance could be reversed by dual treatment with the hormone therapy fulvestrant (Faslodex) and the HER2 kinase inhibitor neratinib (Nerlynx), according to data presented during a media preview for the 2018 American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) Annual Meeting, to be held April 14–18 in Chicago.”

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FDA Approves New Treatment to Reduce the Risk of Breast Cancer Returning

Excerpt:

“The U.S. Food and Drug Administration today approved Nerlynx (neratinib) for the extended adjuvant treatment of early-stage, HER2-positive breast cancer. For patients with this type of cancer, Nerlynx is the first extended adjuvant therapy, a form of therapy that is taken after an initial treatment to further lower the risk of the cancer coming back. Nerlynx is indicated for adult patients who have been previously treated with a regimen that includes the drug trastuzumab.”

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If you’re wondering whether this story applies to your own cancer case or a loved one’s, we invite you to use our ASK Cancer Commons service.