A new medication for breast cancer reduces brain metastases

An Austrian study headed by MedUni Vienna found that a novel class of drugs can partially or even entirely reverse active brain metastases in breast cancer patients. According to recent research, this chemical combination of an antibody and a chemotherapy medication opens up a brand-new field for oncological study and targeted therapy.

The study’s findings, which were published in the journal Nature Medicine, are revolutionary in the way that cancer’s deadly brain metastases are treated.

The Division of Oncology at MedUni Vienna and University Hospital Vienna treated 14 women and one man with HER2-positive breast cancer and brain metastases for the study.

Transtzumab deruxtecan (T-Dxd) was examined in the study by the Austrian research team led by Matthias Preusser and Rupert Bartsch (Division of Oncology within the Department of Medicine I of MedUni Vienna and University Hospital Vienna) as a potential new therapeutic strategy in cases of breast cancer spreading to the brain.

These were the conclusions: In 73.3% of patients, T-Dxd reduced the metastases, and in two out of 15 patients (or 13.3%), it totally eliminated them from brain imaging. The researchers discovered that the medicine was well tolerated in addition to this incredibly favourable outcome, as there was no decline in the subjects’ quality of life or brain function over the course of treatment.

Additionally, T-Dxd has already received approval from the EU and other regions of the world. Accordingly, study leader Matthias Preusser notes that it can be used right away for the treatment of breast cancer patients with brain metastases in specialised oncology facilities in Austria and other countries.

50% of people get brain metastases.
Breast cancer is the most prevalent cancer in women in Austria, accounting for more than 5,000 new cases per year. Less than 1% of males have this kind of cancer. HER2-positive breast cancer affects 15% of breast cancer patients.

HER 2 (Human Epidermal Receptors) serve as docking sites for growth factors in this aggressive form of cancer, which cause the cancer cell to divide and then develop and metastasis. Up to 50% of patients with metastatic HER2-positive breast cancer develop brain metastases.

Conjugation of an antibody-chemotherapy medication

The European Medicines Agency (EMA) authorised T-Dxd in 2021 for the treatment of metastatic or incurable HER2-positive breast cancer.

It is a chemical mixture of the anti-HER2 antibody trastuzumab and the chemotherapeutic medication (deruxtecan). It was unknown up to this point if the new compound would work on active brain metastases.

Further research into the novel drug class is now being planned in light of the most recent study’s findings: “Our findings open up entirely new avenues for clinical research and the treatment of brain metastases in breast cancer—and possibly other types of cancer as well,” says Matthias Preusser in reference to the treatment of cancer in the future.

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