Combo of Glaxo’s Tykerb, Roche’s Herceptin effective in early breast cancer


Millions of women are suffering from breast cancer today. Many drug companies and associations have been working hard on developing solutions for treating the deadly disease and spreading general awareness to get an earlier breast cancer screening. Recently a study reveals that combination of drugs and chemotherapy can help women suffering with early breast cancer by destroying 46% of breast tumors.

About the combo drug
The drugs in question are GlaxoSmithKline PLC’s (GSK) oral breast cancer medicine Tykerb and California-based Genentech’s, now part of the Swiss company Roche, Herceptin oncology drug.  According to new study, when these drugs used together before surgery, are more effective when combined with standard chemotherapy than either one on its own.

Both medicines work by blocking the function of HER2, a protein overproduced in about 25% of all breast cancers. The drugs bind to different regions of the HER2 receptor. Herceptin blocks the protein on the cell’s surface, whereas Tykerb does it inside the cell. Because both drugs have an action on HER2 protein but at different sites, researchers aim for more complete blockage of the pathway.

About the study
The study was led by Dr. Jose Baselga, associate director of the Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center. He tested these drugs alone and in combination in 455 patients, who were also given the chemotherapy drug paclitaxel. The patients were treated for about four months before surgery to remove their tumors and for nine months afterwards.   It was the first test of Herceptin and Tykerb together for early-stage disease. The results showed that: 

  • The two drugs combination with chemotherapy eradicated tumors in 46% of the patients, which is 50% more than was seen with the standard...

    therapy of Herceptin plus chemotherapy.
  • Combining the two drugs alone eliminated the tumor in 17% of cases.

The studies were presented during 33rd annual meeting of the CTRC-AACR San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium, in San Antonio, Texas.

According to researchers, combination therapy was not associated with a significant increase in side effects or cardiac risk. But the major concern of the combination treatment is cost. Tykerb costs $5,000 to $6,000 per month, whereas Herceptin costs more than $4,000 a month plus Physician’s fee to infuse the drug.

Dr. Neil Spector of the Duke Cancer Institute cost “is a real consideration.”

Researchers are fascinated with the results and said the future of cancer care looks bright for approaches like this that use targeted drugs well matched to patients’ tumor profiles.

Undoubtly, it is an outstanding finding in treating tumor in early breast cancer patients. But drug companies and health care associations should come up with lower cost strategies that can increase the affordability of the drugs for the patients and improve their quality of life.

Source: AP

7 Responses

  1. sushil seth says:

    Manju my wife aged 60 yrs. was dignosed at KGMC Lucknow(india) on i3th sep.2008.She was administerd 6 cycles of chemo.(intwo parts 70% +30%)till march 2009. As she was being treated by a sergion(without sergery),we came to Bangalore in june2009 & consulted an specialist in med.oncology at Kidwai cancer Drug Inst. Dr. Govind Baboo. after PET Scanning,Biopsy and other req. tests,she was administerd Herceptin440mg.+ Ixemra60mg.After 6 cycles with an interval of 21 days,Dr. switced to Herceptin+Abraxon.However after adminstring the combination for 3 cycles Dr. observed that she is not tolerating the Chemo.In between Manju had severe infection due to this Chem. was stoped for amonth in Dec.2009-Jan.2010.After completion of Chemo.Dr. switced to Tykerb+Hercep. combination which is still continued.In nov.2011 and PET Scannig report showed some spots in brain which was confirmed in MRI.Dr. added Temzolamide capsule 250 mg.(one capsule for 5 days every nigt) which is being repeated after 23 days along with Hercep.+tykerb.In the month of March2011 Oncologist suggested to consult an Ortopedic sergon suspecting bone problem However after viewing Xray & MRI Ortho.Sergeon advised for adding IDROFOS(ibandronic acid con. for infuson) along with Calcium 500mg.table daily.Thogh Manju is figting the desease bravely but now she is unable to walk without stick.My request to the experts is to suggest any other remeady for her.

  2. kamal says:

    Hello Mr. Sunil,
    you can contact Dr. Shona Nag, Jehangir hospital, Pune 020 26050550 i think she can help you.


    • sushil says:

      Dear Mr.Kamal
      Thanks for advising me to contact ihave spoken to her and she had responded positively.and have asked me to send all the reports enabling her to advise us accordingly.I shall be sending all teh reports shortly for the needful.
      Thanks once again.

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