A new treatment for breast cancer is currently being tested at the University Hospital in Uppsala. In the first tests, the treatment has been much more effective than the best of those currently available.
"The first studies of Enhertu as the drug is called, show an astonishingly strong and long-lasting effect on the tumors. The treatment has recently proven to be three to four times more effective than the current treatment for relapse, and with very few side effects", says Henrik Lindman, responsible for breast cancer care at the University Hospital and head of the study, in a press release.
Enhertu works by allowing antibodies to transport cytotoxic drugs directly to the tumor without damaging the rest of the body. The cytostatic molecules in the cytotoxin attach to receptors on the surface of the cancerous tumor via antibodies and are then introduced into the cells and released there to kill the tumor.
Patients with a fast-growing form of breast cancer (spread HER2-positive breast cancer) will be the first patients to receive this new treatment.
"The effect is long-lasting and, interestingly enough, Enhertu also seems to work on tumors with a low number of HER2 receptors, which is more common. Therefore, studies are also underway on this patient group, including here at the (Uppsala) University Hospital", says Henrik Lindman.
Brings hope to cancer research at large
There are also signs that the treatment works against other types of cancer.
"So far, two patients have received Enhertu here at Akademiska and it has worked very well despite the patients not having HER2-positive breast cancer. This suggests that it can be a drug with very broad use", says Henrik Lindman
The treatment is no more expensive than today's treatments, which means that there is good hope that Enhertu can become a standard treatment within one to two years. This could mean saving many lives.
"This is the biggest breakthrough in cancer research in at least 20 years. It's a sensation. It is not possible to say anything else", says Henrik Lindman, in a comment to Upsala Nya Tidning.