FDA Approves First Immunotherapy for Breast Cancer
Last Friday the FDA approved Roche’s Tecentriq, an immunotherapy for cancer, to be used to treat breast cancer patients. This makes it the first immunotherapy to be approved for the treatment of this type of cancer.
The approval does come with restrictions; it was only approved for locally advanced or metastatic triple-negative breast cancer. This type of breast cancer is an especially aggressive form and there are currently few options when it comes to treatment. The cells in triple-negative tumors lack receptors for estrogen, progesterone, and HER2 making several of the treatments used for other forms of breast cancer futile when fighting this type.
Tecentriq binds to a molecule called PD-L1 which normally attaches to PD-1 receptors on the surface of T cells and prevents them from fighting the tumor. Not all triple-negative forms of breast cancer express PD-L1 and even among those that do, Tecentriq isn’t a cure-all or even guaranteed to help.
In recent studies, patients who were treated with Tecentriq along with chemotherapy and whose tumors exhibited PD-L1 molecules averaged 7.4 months before the disease progressed or worsened while patients given only the chemo treatment’s average time was 4.8 months. But the data is still not enough to conclusively point to Tecentriq as the reason for the elongated progression-free survival.
Even though Tecentriq has been approved, work remains to determine its effectiveness as a treatment. According to Genentech, the developer of Tecentriq, its approval “may be contingent upon verification and description of clinical benefit in a confirmatory trial(s).”
If you found this story interesting you should consider reading about Seattle-based Atossa Genetics (Nasdaq: ATOS) which is is a clinical-stage drug company developing novel, proprietary therapeutics and delivery methods for breast cancer and other breast conditions. To learn more please see the dedicated coverage page at Vista Partners.