Date: 22 February 2019
A team of researchers at the Royal Free Hospital, London are leading the way in a new UK Breast Cancer trial.
The team recently recruited the first UK patient to the study, which tests the use of an ‘immunotherapy’ drug.
Immunotherapy is a relatively new method of treatment, providing increasingly promising therapy for several types of cancer. In it, drugs are being developed which enable the body’s own immune system to help fight against cancerous cells.
The study, sponsored by the University of Padova and supported by the NIHR, is testing whether a new drug can stop a protein that camouflages cancer from the body’s immune system. The drug aims to work against the protein, allowing the immune system to recognise tumor cells and attack them.
Breast cancer is the most common type of tumor in women and is the leading cause of women’s cancer-related death in Europe. This trial, known as the ‘A BRAVE’ study, is designed to target a rare type of ‘triple negative breast cancer’ (TNBC), a subtype which currently has the poorest outcome for patients.
Patients taking part in the study have already received the standard treatments of surgery and chemotherapy but have features associated with a higher risk of reoccurrence.
The study aims to recruit 335 patients in total, assessing whether taking the drug for one year will improve survival for patients.
Speaking about her hopes for the research, Principle Investigator, Dr Judy King said:
“TNBC remains the most challenging breast cancer subtype to treat. Patients with residual disease present in the breast or lymph nodes after completing primary chemotherapy are at high risk of relapse.
The first positive trial of immunotherapy in metastatic TNBC was recently reported at the European Society for Medical Oncology and the A BRAVE study aims to build on this success.
Immunotherapy after surgery has already become standard of care for other cancers such as melanoma, and the hope is that TNBC will one day follow suit.”
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