Drug Combination Shows Promise Against Triple-Negative Breast Cancer

Date of presentation: December 13, 2013

For women with triple-negative breast cancer, adding carboplatin and the investigational drug veliparib to standard neoadjuvant (before surgery) chemotherapy resulted in higher response rates. These results were presented at the 2013 San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium.

Neoadjuvant chemotherapy refers to chemotherapy that is given prior to surgery. This approach can make surgery easier to perform by shrinking or eliminating cancer prior to surgery. Neoadjuvant chemotherapy also provides information about how the cancer responds to chemotherapy. Women who have a complete response to neoadjuvant chemotherapy (a complete elimination of detectable cancer) tend to have better outcomes than women who do not have a complete response.

Veliparib is an investigational drug known as a PARP inhibitor. The PARP enzyme plays a role in DNA repair, including the repair of DNA damage from chemotherapy. Drugs that inhibit this enzyme may contribute to cancer cell death and increased sensitivity to chemotherapy.

To evaluate new approaches to the treatment of breast cancer that is triple-negative, HER2-positive, or at high risk of recurring, researchers are conducting a Phase II clinical trial known as I-SPY 2. The results presented at this year’s San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium focused on women with triple-negative breast cancer.

The addition of veliparib and carboplatin to standard neoadjuvant chemotherapy improved response rates. A complete response to treatment occurred in 26% of women treated with standard therapy and 52% of women treated with standard therapy plus veliparib and carboplatin.

Based on these promising findings, the combination of veliparib and carboplatin will undergo further testing in a Phase III clinical trial.

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Rugo HS, Olopade O, DeMichele A et al. Veliparib/carboplatin plus standard neoadjuvant therapy for high-risk breast cancer: First efficacy results from the I-SPY 2 TRIAL. Presented at the 2013 San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium. Abstract S5-02.[ Full text available here ]

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