New 'Smart Drug' Shows Promise for Metastatic Triple-Negative Breast Cancer

A new “smart drug” has shown promise for women with metastatic triple-negative breast cancer, based on data from a clinical trial at NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia’s Herbert Irving Comprehensive Cancer Center and other centers. The data from the trial were published Feb. 20 in the New England Journal of Medicine.

“I think this drug has the potential to change practice, because the data look so compelling, even with the relatively small number of patients in the trial,” says Kevin Kalinsky, MD, MS, assistant professor of medicine at Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons, an oncologist at NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia University Irving Medical Center, and the paper’s senior author.

“There’s an unmet need for patients with metastatic triple-negative breast cancer, and we see significant tumor shrinkage with this new therapy,” Kalinsky adds. 

Triple-negative breast cancer is an aggressive disease and is more common, relative to other breast cancers, in young women and African-American women. Triple-negative breast cancers do not express the estrogen receptor, progesterone receptor, or HER2. Thus, historically, treatments only included chemotherapy for triple-negative breast cancer and not targeted therapy, such as hormone therapy or Herceptin.

As reported by the CUIMC Newsroom, the drug, sacituzumab govitecan, is part of an emerging class of “smart drugs” designed to deliver a toxic payload directly to tumor cells. The drug is a fusion of an antibody that recognizes a protein expressed by breast cancer cells known as trop2 and the metabolite of an established chemotherapy drug (irinotecan), SN-38. The antibody delivers SN-38 directly to the cancer cell.

Kalinsky says that “with this smart drug, we can deliver a much higher dose of the payload since we’re sending it directly to the cancer cells.” Read the full article at CUIMC Newsroom