US approves immunotherapy for breast cancer for first time

3-10-2019 jacob plieth vantage
Image credit: Jacob Plieth/Vantage

Roche’s cancer immunotherapy Tecentriq (atezolizumab), a PD-L1 inhibitor, scored its fifth Food and Drug Administration approval on [March 8], for advanced triple-negative breast cancer, but the fifth was a first: Before this decision, no immunotherapies had been approved for any form of breast cancer.

For all the attention immunotherapies have received, especially for apparently curing what had previously been always-fatal melanoma, they help only a minority of patients.

51 patients received either Tecentriq plus the chemotherapy paclitaxel (Celgene’s Abraxane) or a placebo plus paclitaxel. The Tecentriq group had a median progression-free survival (the time before their disease spread or otherwise worsened, including fatally) of 7.2 months. The paclitaxel-alone group had a median PFS of 5.5 months.

Related article:  'Blitzkrieg of biology' reveals secrets of BRCA1 breast cancer mutation

[Medical oncologist Hope Rugo] suspects that, as with melanoma patients who receive checkpoint inhibitors, some triple-negative breast cancer patients will not benefit from Tecentriq, but some will be cured.

As is true of most immunotherapies, Tecentriq came with immune-system-related side effects, with more than 20 percent of patients suffering hair loss, tingling or numbness in the hands and feet, nausea, diarrhea, low red blood cells, constipation, or low white blood cells.

Read full, original post: Roche scores first U.S. approval of immunotherapy for breast cancer

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