combinations of "smart bomb" cancer drugs that
target specific proteins and avoid the indiscriminate
cell destruction of chemotherapy may be the wave of
the future for cancer patients, experts say.
show that combining targeted treatments such as
Genentech's breast cancer drug Herceptin with
GlaxoSmithKline's experimental treatment Tykerb
may be helpful in patients who do not respond to
Herceptin alone, said Jose Baselga, chief of medical
oncology service at Vall d'Hebron University
Hospital in Barcelona, Spain.
therapies act like smart bombs by crippling or knocking out
deadly cancer cells while leaving healthy cells intact,
unlike the scorched earth approach of chemotherapy
which kills both healthy and unhealthy cells.
and Tykerb together is just one of many drug combinations
that could improve on results seen with existing targeted
therapies such as ImClone Systems' colon cancer
drug Erbitux and OSI Pharmaceuticals' lung
cancer drug Tarceva.
chemical models suggest that combinations will be superior,
though the data still has to prove it," Baselga said
at the annual meeting of the American Society of
Saturday released promising results from a mid-stage
trial on lung cancer patients of Pfizer's kidney
cancer drug Sutent. Now they are planning to test it
in combination with Tarceva.
us feel that except for in very rare instances, tumors are
driven by multiple pathways and therefore it makes sense
that a multitargeted approach makes most
sense," said Mark Socinski, associate professor
of medicine at the University of North Carolina at Chapel
targeted therapies isolated single targets.
Genentech's Avastin targets a protein known as
vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), which cuts
off the oxygen and nutrients tumors need to survive. Erbitux
attacks the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR), which
curtails tumor growth.
But drugs such as
Sutent hit multiple targets, as does Bayer and Onyx
Pharmaceuticals' kidney cancer drug Nexavar.
In the colorectal
field, behind Avastin and Erbitux, comes Amgen's
panitumumab, which has not yet been approved.
compelling argument for panitumumab is that it is
multitargeting whereas Avastin only targets VEGF and
Erbitux only targets EGFR," said William Li,
head of the Angiogenesis Foundation. "This raises the
exciting possibility that it might have better coverage and
could be a competitor to both." (Reuters)