Scientists say a new treatment showing promise against triple negative breast cancer and could change the way patients are treated. These cancers tend to be more aggressive and have worse outcomes, with limited treatment options.
Ten to twenty percent of breast cancers are called triple negative because they don’t have receptors – such as ones for estrogen – that can be targeted by certain medications.
The drug works by targeting proteins found on immune cells and some cancer cells.
Dr. Sylvia Adams of NYU Langone Health says the new drug helps the immune system recognize the cancer.
“There are killer cells already in the cancer present and ready to fight, except that this cancer shields itself from the from the immune attack. So, this drug is now able to take the shield down and basically paves the way for your own immune response to kill the tumor,” Dr. Adams explains.
The trial, at hundreds of sites in 41 countries, followed 902 patients and found the combination of immunotherapy and chemotherapy improved overall survival by nearly four months, (3.7 months) and nearly 10 months for those patients whose tumors tested positive for the targeted protein.
The drug is currently approved for bladder and one type of lung cancer.