New drug combo fights certain breast cancers

On Tuesday, researchers announced that a three-drug cocktail may help women with HER2-positive breast cancer better than any other drug used on its own. About one quarter of women with breast cancer make up this HER2 category.

Tests on mice revealed using the three drugs along with breast cancer drug tamoxifen helped wipe out tumors altogether. And the tumors did not come back. This is the first time mice were cured of a very aggressive human breast tumor. Incidentally, when a single drug was used, tumors returned within several weeks.

The three wonder drugs used in this study -- all are monoclonal antibodies that precisely target certain aspects of tumors -- are the experimental drug pertuzumab; trastuzumab, also known as Herceptin; and gefitinib, or Iressa.

Published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, this study supports the notion that HER2-positive tumors eventually become resistant to one drug and attacking them on several fronts seems to work better.

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