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Drugs Today (Barc). 1999 Dec;35(12):931-46.

Trastuzumab, a humanized anti-HER2 monoclonal antibody, for the treatment of breast cancer.

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Laboratory of Oncology Research, Medical Oncology Service, Vall d'Hebron University Hospital, Barcelona, Spain.


The HER2/neu gene encodes a 185 kDa transmembrane receptor (HER2) that belongs to the epidermal growth factor receptor family and has intrinsic tyrosine kinase activity. HER2 is overexpressed in 25-30% of breast cancers and is suggested to have a direct role in the pathogenesis and clinical aggressiveness of HER2 overexpressing tumors. A murine monoclonal antibody, 4D5, directed against the extracellular domain of HER2, is a potent inhibitor of growth of human breast cancer cells overexpressing HER2 in vitro and in xenograft models. To facilitate clinical investigation, 4D5 was humanized by inserting the complementary determining regions of 4D5 into the framework of a consensus human IgG1. The resulting recombinant humanized anti-HER2 MAb, trastuzumab, was found to inhibit the growth of human cancer cells and tumor xenografts overexpressing HER2. Data from phase II trials in women with breast cancer whose tumors overexpress HER2 have shown that trastuzumab has a favorable toxicity profile, is active as a single agent and induces long-lasting objective tumor responses. In combination studies, there was no evidence that trastuzumab enhanced the toxicity of cisplatin and the pharmacokinetic parameters of trastuzumab were unaltered by coadministration of cisplatin. Furthermore, clinical response rates were higher than those reported with either agent alone in a similar patient population. Results of a multicenter, phase III clinical trial of chemotherapy (doxorubicin- or paclitaxel-based) plus trastuzumab as compared to chemotherapy alone in patients with advanced breast cancers overexpressing HER2 showed a significant enhancement in the effects of chemotherapy on time to disease progression, response rates and survival with coadministration of trastuzumab, without increases in overall severe adverse events. Myocardial dysfunction syndrome, similar to that observed with anthracyclines, was reported more commonly with chemotherapy plus trastuzumab. Positive results from clinical studies led to the approval of trastuzumab in the U.S in October 1998 for the treatment of metastatic breast cancer in patients with tumors overexpressing HER2. Since then, the MAb has also been marketed in Switzerland and Canada.


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