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‘Trojan Horse’ Drug Trodelvy Is a Breast Cancer Lifeline, Historic Study Proves

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Women with advanced breast cancer have been given a lifeline by a breakthrough treatment that could help them stay healthy for longer.

The drug, Trodelvy, has been dubbed a Trojan because it can penetrate tumors and deliver powerful chemotherapy agents that attack cancer cells from within.

The highly accurate procedure avoids damage to healthy tissue, meaning doctors can give higher doses without exacerbating side effects.

Trodelvy has already been shown to be effective in patients with triple-negative breast cancer, a notoriously difficult-to-treat form of the disease that accounts for 15 percent of cases. In these women, the drug can double the chances of survival.

The results of a landmark study, announced yesterday at the American Society of Clinical Oncology’s annual conference in Chicago, show that Trodelvy is highly effective in women with one of the most common types, known as HR-positive HER2-negative breast cancer, which is responsible for seven out of ten diagnoses.

This means thousands more women could soon benefit from the drug, which is given every two weeks through an intravenous drip.

One patient benefiting from Trodelvy is Karen Corrigan (above), 42, from Nottingham, who was diagnosed with triple-negative breast cancer in January 2018 after finding a lump in her left breast.

It is a fact

More than 150 breast cancer diagnoses are made every day in the UK alone – that’s one every ten minutes.

The patients in the study were in advanced disease and had not responded to treatment. Those who received Trodelvy saw a 34 percent decrease in the chance of dying or worsening the disease within a year, compared with patients who received traditional chemotherapy.

dr. Jane Lowe Meisel, a cancer specialist at Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta, praised the breakthrough. She said: ‘There is a serious unmet need for these patients, who have already undergone chemotherapy and are out of options.

“If one of these patients walks into a clinic, with this drug you can essentially give them a one in five chance of not making any progress within a year. That’s huge.’

The findings have renewed hopes that the NHS issuer, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), will also give Trodelvy the green light.

In April, there was disappointment when the watchdog rejected the drug, also called sacituzumab govitecan, as too expensive.

But The Mail on Sunday has learned that NICE will meet on Tuesday to resume negotiations with US manufacturer Gilead over the price tag of £200,000 per year per patient.

Trodelvy has already been shown to be effective in patients with triple-negative breast cancer, a notoriously difficult-to-treat form of the disease that accounts for 15 percent of cases.  In these women, the drug can double the chances of survival.  (Given by models)

Trodelvy has already been shown to be effective in patients with triple-negative breast cancer, a notoriously difficult-to-treat form of the disease that accounts for 15 percent of cases. In these women, the drug can double the chances of survival. (Given by models)

Trodelvy is one of a new breed of cancer drugs known as antibody-drug conjugates. These use artificial antibodies — similar to those produced naturally by the immune system — and are designed to target a protein found in cancer cells. They carry a load of chemotherapy drugs that, when they find their target, deliver directly into the tumor.

Blood test ends grueling cycles of colon chemotherapy

Colon cancer patients could soon be spared the grueling chemotherapy thanks to a revolutionary blood test.

At present, nearly half of NHS patients who have their colons removed surgically because of tumors are also receiving chemotherapy to prevent the disease from returning.

Still, only one in five is believed to be at risk of recurrence, meaning many are getting the powerful drugs unnecessarily.

Currently, doctors decide which patients should receive chemotherapy by examining colon tumors after they have been removed during surgery. However, this method is far from reliable.

The new test attempts to correct the problem by looking for fragments of cancerous genetic material circulating in the blood.

Study results presented yesterday at the American Society of Clinical Oncology conference in Chicago showed that the test was so accurate it could halve the number of patients receiving chemotherapy.

Experts predict the findings will change the way colon cancer is treated worldwide.

‘The chemotherapy drugs these patients have to take after surgery are particularly grueling,’ said Dr Hendrik-Tobias Arkenau, medical director of Sarah Cannon Research Institute UK.

‘Often they cause severe neuropathy’ [nerve damage] which makes simple activities like picking up a glass of water excruciatingly painful. I would like to see this new test widely applied.’

Professor Nick Turner, an expert on breast cancer at the Institute for Cancer Research in London, said: ‘It’s not a cure, but it can extend their lives, giving patients more time with their family and friends.’

Experts believe these early findings show that Trodelvy can buy women valuable months.

“Given the significant difference this drug makes to the rate of cancer progression, it makes sense that it will also extend patients’ lives, although we’ll have to wait for more data to say that for sure,” Prof Turner said.

The news comes as another antibody-drug conjugate, Enhertu, or trastuzumab deruxtecan, is expected to show promising results for breast cancer patients.

Previous studies have shown it to be highly effective, reducing the risk of death by more than two-thirds in some patients. As with Trodelvy, new trial data for Enhertu will show broader benefits.

“We’re seeing a lot of antibody-drug conjugates for breast cancer now and it’s very good news,” said Prof. Parker. ‘Immunotherapy’ [drugs which train the immune system to fight off cancer] was the big cancer success story over the past decade, but they had limited results for breast cancer patients.

‘That is why antibody-drug conjugates may play an important role in the coming years.

One patient benefiting from Trodelvy is Karen Corrigan, 42, from Nottingham, who was diagnosed with triple negative breast cancer in January 2018 after finding a lump in her left breast.

The singer underwent chemotherapy and immunotherapy and received the all-clear six times, but the cancer kept coming back.

In January 2020, Karen had a mastectomy, but in April scans showed the cancer had come back and had spread to her liver and lungs. “The doctors told me there was nothing they could do at this point,” Karen says. “I’m a tough cookie and I’m trying to stay positive, but I knew I didn’t have long.”

Patients at this stage are not expected to survive for more than a year.

However, Karen’s doctor was able to get her to a Trodelvy exam, and she started taking it last month.

She said, “I cried and cried when my doctor told me I was going to get the drug because I knew it was the only thing that works for patients like me. I feel so blessed to have that extra time with my family.”

Karen is now vacationing in Florida with 14 of her closest family and friends. But the drug is not without side effects – she lost her hair on the flight to the US.

Still, she says it was manageable. “I don’t want to know how much longer I have, so I want to continue living my life until my body tells me otherwise.”

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