Breast cancer drug brings hope

Categories: In The Media.

Up to 34 women who have not responded to currently available treatments are being recruited for the trial.

The €750,000 drug trial is targeting women with a form of breast cancer known as HER2 positive breast cancer.

Consultant oncologist Professor Bryan Hennessy said: “This trial is for women with a type of breast cancer called Her2 positive breast cancer which makes up about 20% of all breast cancers.

“It’s for those women whose breast cancer is advanced and who don’t have any good treatment options available for them.”

Beaumont Hospital based Professor Hennessy who is Clinical Lead at Cancer Trials Ireland added: “We are taking a standard treatment option – trastuzumab or Herceptin and adding a brand new drug to it, a drug called copnalisib.

“The idea is that the drug will make the breast cancer sensitive to the standard treatment Herceptin once again as well as having its own effect against the breast cancer.

Professor Hennessy told Newstalk’s Breakfast show:  “We are hoping to introduce a good new treatment option for women with advanced breast cancer who don’t have any good treatment options remaining.”

He said “hopes are very high” that the trial will be successful and have a “major positive impact” for women with this advanced types of breast cancer.

Breast cancer claims the lives of almost 700 Irish women every year. About 2,800 women are diagnosed with the disease every twelve months.

Treatments like trastuzumab known as Herceptin are effective at helping to slow down or even stop the growth of cancer cells.

But resistance to HER2 targeted treatments can develop leaving current treatments ineffective.

Cancer Trials Ireland was previously known as ICORG. The new trial will test for the first time the use of the new drug copanlisib in breast cancer which has progressed or recurred in patients during or following standard anti-HER2 treatments.

The trial will be conducted over the next 2-3 years. It is expected that patients will be recruited from Dublin’s Beaumont, St James’s and St Vincent’s University Hospitals, University Hospital Galway and Cork University Hospital.

Professor Hennessy said: “Ireland is a big player in terms of cancer clinical trial research. We work with large groups and pharmaceutical companies, academic groups, internationally in the US and Europe and we do cutting edge clinical trials and many new treatments and tests which we pioneer through Cancer Trials Ireland.”

He said cancer trials do cost money to run and they can be relatively expensive. “Cancer Trials Ireland functions because of grants that we get from the Health research Board and the Irish Cancer Society.

“Because we are established we can then turn to international academic groups and pharmaceutical companies and bring in other funding that way to run the cancer trials that we think are important for people in Ireland.”

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