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Mass. General leading international trial of novel breast cancer drug

A clinical trial of a new targeted breast cancer drug, led by physicians at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) Cancer Center, has begun enrolling patients. The TEACH (Tykerb Evaluation After CHemotherapy) trial will investigate the experimental drug Tykerb (lapatinib) in patients with early-stage, HER2-positive breast cancer who have not been treated with Herceptin, another targeted drug used for the same type of tumor. The MGH is the lead institution for the international trial, which is being sponsored by GlaxoSmithKline, the manufacturer of Tykerb.

This trial represents another step toward understanding the role of targeted therapies in extending disease-free survival, said Paul Goss, MD, PhD, director of Breast Cancer Research at the MGH Cancer Center, who proposed the TEACH study and chairs the International Steering Committee.

About one quarter of breast cancer patients have tumors that overexpress or produce too many copies of a receptor molecule called HER2. Because cellular growth is stimulated by the overactivity of this molecule, which also is called ErbB2, these tumors are more likely to recur and are less responsive to hormone-based treatments. Herceptin, a monoclonal antibody that blocks the HER2 receptor, is approved by the FDA as an adjuvant treatment given along with chemotherapy after surgical removal and/or radiation therapy for early-stage, node-positive and HER2-positive tumors as well as for metastatic tumors.

Tykerb blocks both the HER2/ErbB2 receptor and a related molecule called ErbB1. Earlier clinical trials have indicated that it may have advantages over Herceptin in a number of settings related to treatment of HER2-positive breast cancer without significant side effects. Tykerb has not yet received approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, and the TEACH study is a Phase III trial of its use in patients with early-stage HER2-positive tumors. To enroll in the study which is being
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Contact: Valerie Wencis
vwencis@partners.org
617-726-0274
Massachusetts General Hospital
13-Dec-2006


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