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‘Wonderdrug’ for victims of breast cancer

world Updated: Dec 13, 2009 23:42 IST

PTI
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In what could be claimed a major breakthrough, scientists have come up with a “wonderdrug” that they claim has shrunk tumours in women breast cancer patients for whom all other treatments have failed.

An international team has found that 40 per cent of women with an aggressive and advanced form of breast cancer who were given the new treatment in clinical trials actually saw their tumours reduce.

The new drug — a combination of Herceptin with a particular type of chemotherapy — in fact slowed the spread of the disease in more than half of women with HER2-positive cancer, a particularly aggressive form of the disease, The Sunday Telegraph reported. And, in 40 per cent of cases, tumours were reduced for at least six months, the scientists said.

In recent years, the Herceptin drug, which targets a protein known as HER2 on the surface of the tumour cells, which makes the disease more aggressive, has been hailed as the best solution for such women.

The new trial found that for those women whose disease had continued to progress, the combination of Herceptin with a type of chemotherapy called DM1 -- which prevents the division of cell which spreads cancer -- could offer a last hope, the scientists said.

On average, the 110 women in the research had already undergone seven types of different drug treatments, which had failed to stop the spread of their cancer, before given the “two-in-one” treatment, called TDM1, the scientists said.

Tumours were shrunk in 40 per cent of cases, while a further 12 per cent of women saw their disease stabilise for six months or more, according to the findings.

Experts have welcomed the new treatment, saying it could offer hope to women who had exhausted all other options.