A NEW drug designed to treat a form of breast cancer has been hailed as “groundbreaking” by top scientists - raising hopes of finding a cure.
AstraZeneca said that the trial of the medicine showed that there was a 72 per cent reduction in the risk of the disease progressing or causing death.
Three quarters of women who have taken the new drug, Enhertu, showed no progression in their disease after 12 months compared with just a third treated with a different medicine.
Women who have the HER2-positive breast cancer will be the ones with the most benefit of the new drug compared to different medicines.
They presented the positive findings at a Presidential Symposium at the European Society for Medical Oncology (ESMO) Congress 2021.
Around 500 patients across Asia, Europe, North America, Oceana and South America found that there was a strong trend “towards improved overall survival”.
However they were keen to stress that the testing is not yet complete, and the results are not “statistically significant”.
Nearly all patients, 94 per cent, treated with the drug were alive at one year compared to 85 percent of patients treated with fellow cancer drug T-DMI1.
David Fredrickson, head of oncology at AstraZeneca, said that those who worked for the pharmaceutical giant shed tears of surprise when the data was revealed.
He said: “It’s remarkable to hear the oncology community, as they take the data in, say: ‘Is it possible that we could be offering a cure for some women with advanced disease?’”
Susan Galbraith, executive vice president added: "Today's results are ground-breaking.
"These unprecedented data represent a potential paradigm shift in the treatment of HER2-positive metastatic breast cancer, and illustrate the potential for Enhertu to transform more patient lives in earlier treatment settings.”
Javier Cortes, from the International Breast Cancer Centre in Barcelona, said patients with previously treated HER2-positive breast cancer will usually experience progression in less than a year with the available treatment.
He said the the "high and consistent benefit" seen across key groups is "remarkable and supports the potential of Enhertu to become the new standard of care for those who have previously been treated for HER2-positive metastatic breast cancer".
Enhertu has already been approved by the UK’s medicines regulator, the MHRA, and 34 other markets for women who have exhausted other treatments, such as chemotherapy.
The official price for a course of Enhertu is about £118,000, but AstraZeneca lets the NHS have it at a confidential discount.
The firm hopes to expand the use of the drug to earlier stages of cancer.