In experiments on mice with the same type of HER2 positive breast cancer, scientists used an antibody drug to block activity of alpha v beta 6.
– Researcher Dr Kate Moore, from Queen Mary University of London's Barts Cancer Institute
We found that simultaneously targeting alpha v beta 6 and HER2 in mice with tumours grown from human breast cancer cells greatly improved the effectiveness of Herceptin - even eliminating tumours that did not respond to Herceptin alone, which could have the potential to improve treatments for patients with these highly aggressive cancers.
Combining the antibody with the drug Herceptin, which targets the cancer-driving HER2 protein, completely eradicated the animals' tumours after six weeks of treatment. Using the antibody on its own reduced the size of tumours in the mice by 94.8%.
In comparison, treatment with Herceptin alone led to a 77.8% reduction.
Up to 70% of women with HER2-positive breast cancer either do not respond to Herceptin or develop resistance to the drug, leaving up to 7,000 women a year in the UK with limited treatment options.