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Potential of antibody–drug conjugates and novel therapeutics in breast cancer management

Authors Lianos G, Vlachos K, Zoras O, Katsios C, Cho W, Roukos DH

Received 1 November 2013

Accepted for publication 23 January 2014

Published 24 March 2014 Volume 2014:7 Pages 491—500


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewer comments 3

Georgios D Lianos,1 Konstantinos Vlachos,2 Odysseas Zoras,3 Christos Katsios,1 William C Cho,4 Dimitrios H Roukos1

1Centre for Biosystems and Genomic Network Medicine, Ioannina University, Ioannina, Greece; 2Department of Surgery, Ioannina University Hospital, Ioannina, Greece; 3Department of Surgical Oncology, Heraklion University Hospital, Crete, Greece; 4Department of Clinical Oncology, Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Hong Kong

Abstract: Progress in the treatment of cancer over the past decade has been slow. Targeting a mutated gene of an individual patient tumor, tumor-guided agents, and the first draft of the human genome sequence have created an overenthusiasm to achieve personalized medicine. However, we now know that this effort is misleading. Extreme interpatient and intratumor heterogeneity, scarce knowledge in how genome-wide mutational landscape and epigenetic changes affect transcriptional processes, gene expression, signaling transduction networks and cell regulation, and clinical assessment of temporary efficacy of targeted drugs explain the limitations of these currently available agents. Trastuzumab and a few other monoclonal antibodies or small-molecule tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs) represent an exception to this rule. By blocking ligand-binding receptor in patients with human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2) amplification and overexpression, trastuzumab added to chemotherapy in HER2-positive patients has been proven to provide significant overall survival benefit in both metastatic and adjuvant settings. Lapatinib, a small-molecule dual inhibitor (TKI) of both HER2 and EGFR (epidermal growth factor receptor) pathways, has an antitumor activity translated into progression-free survival benefit in HER2-positive metastatic patients previously treated with a taxane, an anthracycline, and trastuzumab. Despite these advances, ~25% of patients with HER2-positive breast cancer experience recurrence in the adjuvant setting, while in the metastatic setting, median survival time is 25 months. In this review, we discuss the safety, efficacy, and limitations of the trastuzumab emtansine (T-DM1) conjugate in the treatment of HER2-positive metastatic breast cancer. We also highlight Phase III randomized trials, currently underway, using either the T-DM1 conjugate or various combinations of monoclonal antibodies and TKIs. Moreover, in contrast with all these agents developed on the basis of “central dogma” of simplified reductionist transcription and single gene–phenotype linear relationship, we summarize the emerging, amazing era of next-generation, transcriptional circuitry and intracellular signaling network-based drugs guided by the latest advances in genome science and dynamics of network biology.

Keywords: trastuzumab emtansine, T-DM1, HER2 disease, targeted agents, cancer, genome, monoclonal antibodies

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