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New class of targeted cancer drugs shows promise in slowing progression of recurrent prostate cancer

A new class of targeted anti-cancer drugs that blocks the human epidermal growth factor (HER) receptor family shows promise in prolonging the lives of patients with recurrent prostate cancer, a new Cedars-Sinai study shows. The drug, a molecular targeted compound called pertuzumab, works by binding to and inhibiting the function of HER2 receptors, interrupting a key pathway that leads to cancer growth.

The study, published in the February 20 issue of the Journal of Clinical Oncology, involved 41 patients with treatment-resistant prostate cancer who had experienced progression of their disease after prior chemotherapy. Patients received the drug every three weeks until disease progression. MRI and CAT scans were used to evaluate the tumors during the period of drug therapy. While no shrinkage of tumors was reported, retrospective analysis showed that survival rate was prolonged to 16.4 months with the drug as compared to a median average of 10.7 months in a historical control group with similar baseline prognostic features.

Advanced prostate cancer is difficult to treat and the drug therapies currently available to these patients have not been very effective, especially in patients whose disease has progressed after chemotherapy treatment, said David B. Agus, M.D., principal investigator of the study and research director of Cedars-Sinais Louis Warschaw Prostate Cancer Center at the Samuel Oschin Comprehensive Cancer Institute. Pertuzumab may offer a new treatment approach for these patients when it is evaluated as a tool to slow not stop or shrink -- tumor growth.

The theory is that by significantly slowing progression of the cancer, patients will experience a good quality of life for a longer period of time, said Agus. Ultimately, we hope drugs like pertuzumab will help us reach the point where cancer can be viewed as a lifetime disease to be managed much like AIDS is looked at now. This would be major shift from the current
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Contact: Simi Singer
simi.singer@cshs.org
310-423-4768
Cedars-Sinai Medical Center
16-Feb-2007


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