Limiting the action of chemotherapy to cancer cells, avoiding damaging those that are healthy, it was considered a utopia only a few years ago, but science is getting closer and closer to this goal. The study 'Emilia', which has just been presented at the Congress of the American Society of Medical Oncology, shows that a new drug - the T-DM1-, is capable of introducing a chemotherapy '10,000 times more powerful 'than the one traditionally used - known as emtansine (DM1) -, in tumor cells.

This chemotherapy, despite its great effectiveness against cancer, had to stop using because it was very toxic. The T-DM1 uses a monoclonal antibody -Biological drugs that can be targeted to specific targets-, trastuzumab, to reach the malignant cells present in the development of positive HER-2 tumors, a type of breast cancer with a poor prognosis.

The real importance of the new treatment lies in the possibility of using extremely powerful chemotherapy against cancer cells, without causing side effects or damaging the patient's healthy tissues

The study involved more than 1,000 women with a positive HER-2 tumor who had relapsed, and treatment with the new drug improved disease-free survival, which went from 6.4 months to 9.6 months and, in addition, the patients did not suffer side effects associates

The new therapy would only be applicable to cancer cells with membrane receptors, such as those that characterize HER-2 positive tumors, but experts point out that the real importance of the new treatment lies in the possibility of successfully fighting cancer tumors. using extremely potent chemotherapy against cancer cells, without causing side effects or damaging the patient's healthy tissues.

New trials are under way to combine the drug with other monoclonal antibodies, and it will also be tested as the first treatment in patients with positive HER-2 breast tumors before the possible relapse occurs, precisely to prevent the cancer from reappearing. It is expected that Genetech, the company that has developed the new drug, will request authorization at the end of this year.

Cancer Treatment: Chemotherapy (November 2019).