BY BOB HOLT
The Food and Drug Administration has just approved a new drug that can delay the path of breast cancer by about six months, according to studies.
A drug known as Kadcyla combines established breast cancer medication Herceptin with a drug called DM1 to attack the growth of cancer cells.
The drugs will battle cancer cells that are filled with an overabundance of a protein called HER2. Kadcyla, along with Herceptin and DMI look for specific cells with the cancer-related proteins without affecting healthy cells, according to Reuters.
Doctor Melody Cobleigh of Rush University Medical Center called the new medication a “revolutionary way of treating cancer." She said, according to The Associated Press, "This antibody goes seeking out the tumor cells, gets internalized and then explodes them from within. So it's very kind and gentle on the patients, no hair loss, no nausea, no vomiting.”
The FDA based their approval on a trial of 991 patients facing a worsening form of metastatic breast cancer that had already been treated with Herceptin and a chemotherapy drug.
Half the women received Kadcyla and the other half took standard breast cancer drugs Tykerb, and Xeloda. The New York Times reported that patients getting Kadcyla lived for 30.9 months on average, compared with about 25.1 months for the other group.
Kadcyla also showed fewer side effects. About 59 percent of women taking Tykerb and Xeloda experienced serious side effects from the medication, to only 43 percent of the group on Kadcyl. But Kadcyla will still carry a warning that it may cause liver and heart damage, or life-threatening birth defects.
The product, manufactured by Roche's Genentech unit, is expected to be available in about two weeks. WSJ.com reports that it will cost $9,800 a month, but Roche said a patient-assistance program will help patients with payments.