Roche/Genentech drug beats back treatment-resistant breast cancer cells
The drug - vismodegib - has been used to fight a form of skin cancer
August 30, 2012 | By Mark Hollmer
A skin cancer drug developed by Roche ($RHHBY)/Genentech appears to beat back breast cancer cells resistant to tamoxifen, a standard course of treatment, researchers from Ohio have discovered. They also figured out how those cells resistant to tamoxifen both grow and multiply.
Bhuvaneswari Ramaswamy and Sarmila Majumder of the Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center made the finding, which is detailed in the journal Cancer Research.
It turns out that tumors in 30% of patients with estrogen-sensitive breast cancer eventually resist tamoxifen treatment. And the research team proceeded to figure out why. Those cells, it seems, depend on the hedgehog and PI3K/AKT signaling pathways for growth. But the researchers determined that the Roche/Genentech drug Erivedge (vismodegib) may be a solution. The drug, which gained regulatory approval last year as a treatment for basal cell carcinoma, blocks the hedgehog pathway, for one thing. And in animal tests, it stopped tamoxifen-resistant human breast tumors from growing.
nice preclinical publication in a solid journal, first time in a while (Cancer Research, cell line and mouse data). Too bad that out of like 30 trails with vismodegib there aren't any breast cancer ones currently going on. Novartis has a Ph1 trial with their hedgehog inhibitor LDE225 being administered to some breast cancer patients as part of a more general "advanced solid tumors" trial. LDE225 is also being administered in combination with BKM120 in that trial, so it's probably not going to be very useful in gaining any clues in figuring out the effect of blocking hedgehog in some tamoxifen resistant patients (if there are any enrolled by chance)...
the second last author on the Cancer Research article (Charles L. Shapiro) is a MD and participates in a lot of breast cancer clinical trials. Hopefully, he's motivated to try vismodegib (and talk to roche about their findings) on some of his tamoxifen-resistant patients who fail to respond to whatever therapy trial whatever is investigating...