We have come a long way since the first treatment against cancer was used. In the beginning, drugs against cancer were relentless. It killed cells of the body indiscriminately, no matter if they were malignant or regular, so as you can imagine, it had lots of adverse effects. So it was a considerable advance when we started to use specific targets on the malignant cells to kill the just tumor in patients with cancer.
Imagine that you are a hitman and your job is to kill someone, so the best way for you to don’t mistake your target is to identify some features of it, like if he has black hair or wears glasses. Still, it is not 100% effective because many people have the same features. The same happens in cancer treatments; you try to create drugs for specific targets inside the malignant cells—the more specific to particular cells, the least adverse effects.
One of the first therapy and still one the most revolutionary is Herceptin (Trastuzumab). It was released almost 25 years ago; it identifies a target contained in the malignant cells of the breast cancer, the HER2/neu receptor; since then, breast cancer has changed forever. The prognosis wasn’t as fatalist as before, surgery became least aggressive, and patients with breast cancer finally have good hope of total remission.
“Breast cancer changes you, and the change can be beautiful.” – Jane Cook.
Despite this significant advance in breast cancer, there is one particular type that doesn’t express this type of receptors on its cells, so the Herceptin does not work for them. This type of this cancer is known as triple-negative breast cancer, which means it doesn’t express the three receptors identified in breast cancer as therapy targets. As you can imagine, this type of cancer is by far the most mortal of women’s cancer. Unfortunately, as low incident as this type of cancer is, cases have increased worryingly in recent years—a good part of them in young, previously healthy women.
So a piece of great news came recently when Astra Zeneca announced that the FDA had approved the usage of the newest therapy created for this type of cancer that doesn’t express HER2/neu receptor “Lynparza.” The results of the phase three trial published in the New England Journal of Medicine are promising to show great results. This therapy comes with great hopes for patients with this type of cancer.
We should keep insight into the market reaction after the release of this unprecedented drug of Astra Zeneca; it might be one of the most sold drugs in the upcoming future.
Link to the phase three “Lynparza” trial: https://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMoa2105215