According to The AP, The Food and Drug Administration on Friday approved a new type of drug that combines the widely used breast cancer medicine Herceptin with a powerful toxin to more effectively kill cancer cells while potentially reducing side effects.
The new drug is a member of a new class of drugs called antibody-drug conjugates or ADCs.
Its name is Kadcyla, and in a trial of 991 women with advanced HER2 breast cancer, those who got Kadcyla lived on average 5.8 months longer than those getting more standard chemotherapy, researchers reported last year in the New England Journal of Medicine. It meant about 2 ½ years of life after diagnosis, compared to two years for those on standard therapy.
While having greater efficacy, Kadcyla also had fewer side effects. About 43 percent of patients on Kadcyla had serious side effects compared with 59 percent for those getting the two pills.
HER2-positive breast cancer is a breast cancer that tests positive for a protein called human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2), which promotes the growth of cancer cells. In about 1 of every 5 breast cancers, the cancer cells make an excess of HER2 due to a gene mutation.