New research published this week in the New England Journal of Medicine has found that a new drug – sacituzumab – is effective in stopping growth of tumours in patients with triple negative breast cancer that has spread to other parts of the body (metastasis). 

A trial of 108 women with secondary (metastatic) triple negative breast cancer who had undergone two or more previous treatments, found that sacituzumab could give these patients an average of 5.5 months before their disease progressed.

33% of patients responded to the drug, which consists of an antibody which targets a protein called Trop-2 found on the surface of cancer cells, and delivers chemotherapy directly to tumours. Further trials are currently ongoing to compare sacituzumab to standard treatment for these patients, which is currently chemotherapy.

Rachel Kahn, Research Communications Officer at Breast Cancer Now, said:

These are encouraging findings and we hope they could one day lead to a much-needed new option for patients with triple negative breast cancer that has spread around the body.

With ‘triple negative’ patients still severely lacking in targeted treatments, it remains one of the greatest areas of unmet need in breast cancer. It’s really promising that the trial suggests sacituzumab could offer some patients precious extra months before their disease progresses, even after their cancers have stopped responding to other treatments, and that the side effects would be tolerable.

We now look forward to further research to help identify which patients may benefit most from this drug, as well as to larger trials assessing howsacituzumab compares to standard treatment with chemotherapy.