New breast cancer drug for HER-2 positive patients

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A new weapon in the fight against breast cancer. A better, stronger and less toxic drug to battle the most aggressive forms of the disease. The food and drug administration approved the drug which was tested on women right here in Chicago!

For nine years Peggy Leider has been living with HER-2 positive breast cancer. Three years ago, it spread to her liver.

Dr. Melody Cobleigh, Medical Oncologist, Rush University Medical Center: “The cells divide more rapidly and they spread more easily. It’s a more lethal type of breast cancer in its natural history.”

Peggy Leider: “I’ve been through a lot of chemos, lost my hair three times.”

But this time it’s different.

Peggy Leider: “The tumors are shrinking, which is a miracle. Plus the way I feel. I feel just awesome.”

This is TDM-1. Newly approved by the FDA, it’s part Herceptin – a medication that bypasses normal cells and targets only cancer cells – and part powerful chemotherapy agent.

Dr. Cobleigh: “Actually zones right into the tumor cell, attaches to it and the natural function of the tumor cell is to engulf the anti-body along with the chemotherapy, and it just dissolves the tumor cell from within.”

Peggy gets an infusion of the “super Herceptin” every three weeks at Rush University Medical Center. Oncologist Melody Cobleigh, who enrolled patients in the drug’s clinical trial, saw firsthand how quickly the drug worked to kill cancer cells.

Dr. Cobleigh: “It doesn’t take long. You know within a week. The first clinical trial with this drug was published in 2010. It was used in patients whose disease was very far along and the remarkable thing was almost half of patients responded to it, meaning their tumors shrunk significantly. Some patients remain on this for years with very few side effects.”

Peggy’s hoping that will be the case for her.

Peggy Leider: “I feel like a million dollars. I know it will never be completely healed, but I know I have a much longer term to live now. I’m convinced of it.”

Dr. Cobleigh: “It’s basically a revolutionary way of treating cancer, TDM-1 for HER-2 positive cancer, but we’re going to be seeing these molecules coming along for all kinds of cancers.”

For more information about TDM-1 and the Rush Comprehensive Breast Cancer Center, check out or call (312) 563-2325.

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