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Clin Cancer Res. 2011 Oct 15;17(20):6437-47. doi: 10.1158/1078-0432.CCR-11-0762.

Trastuzumab emtansine: a unique antibody-drug conjugate in development for human epidermal growth factor receptor 2-positive cancer.

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Karmanos Cancer Institute, Detroit, Michigan, USA.


Trastuzumab emtansine (T-DM1) is a human epidermal growth factor receptor (HER2)-targeted antibody-drug conjugate, composed of trastuzumab, a stable thioether linker, and the potent cytotoxic agent DM1 (derivative of maytansine), in phase III development for HER2-positive cancer. Extensive analysis of T-DM1 in preclinical studies has shown that T-DM1 combines the distinct mechanisms of action of both DM1 and trastuzumab, and has antitumor activity in trastuzumab- and lapatinib-refractory experimental models. Clinically, T-DM1 has a consistent pharmacokinetics profile and minimal systemic exposure to free DM1, with no evidence of DM1 accumulation following repeated T-DM1 doses. Although a few covariates were shown to affect interindividual variability in T-DM1 exposure and clearance in population-pharmacokinetics analyses, the magnitude of their effect on T-DM1 exposure was not clinically relevant. Phase I and phase II clinical trials of T-DM1 as a single agent and in combination with paclitaxel, docetaxel, and pertuzumab have shown clinical activity and a favorable safety profile in patients with HER2-positive metastatic breast cancer. Two randomized phase III trials of T-DM1 are recruiting patients: EMILIA (NCT00829166) is evaluating T-DM1 compared with lapatinib plus capecitabine, and MARIANNE (NCT01120184) is evaluating T-DM1 plus placebo versus T-DM1 plus pertuzumab versus trastuzumab plus a taxane. Additional combinations of T-DM1 (for example, with GDC-0941) and additional disease settings (early-stage HER2-positive breast cancer) are also under investigation. Data from the phase III trials and other studies of T-DM1-containing agents are eagerly awaited.

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