Madrid, October 19, 2022 - The research group, led by Dr. Gema Moreno, head of the Translational Research Laboratory at MD Anderson Cancer Center Foundation Spain, has identified a new treatment strategy against HER2+ breast cancer, a very aggressive subtype of poor prognosis due to the fact that many patients develop resistance to the drugs. This new research, presented in the context of World Breast Cancer Day, opens the door to an alternative treatment since 1 in 5 breast tumors would be classified as HER2+. This constitutes an approximate volume of 7,000 new cases diagnosed in 20221.
The results of the study, recently published in the Journal of Experimental & Clinical Cancer Research2, show that, in animal models and patient samples, the combination of anti-HER2+ therapies with certain doses of chloroquine eliminate drug resistance in patients with breast cancer Thanks to that, antitumor drugs would be more effective, improving the prognosis of those affected. The study is the result of the collaboration between Dr. Moreno-Bueno's team and the laboratories of Dr. David Llobet, of the Bellvitge Biomedical Research Institute (IDIBELL), Dr. Ruth Rodriguez, of the University of Barcelona, Dr. Laura Sanchez of the University of Santiago de Compostela and Dr. Joaquin Arribas, of the Vall d'Hebron Institute of Oncology (VHIO). It is also supported by the Spanish Cancer Association (AECC), the Ministry of Science and Innovation and CIBERONC.
The importance of this research lies in being able to better select patients who will respond to the treatments in order to achieve greater effectiveness and better results. In the words of Dr. Moreno-Bueno, “one of the problems in current oncology is being able to predict which patients will respond and which will not to antitumor therapy. That is why we consider it necessary to be able to analyze tumors in detail at the molecular level. In our group, some time ago we identified a molecule whose expression in HER2+ breast tumors generated resistance to drugs and worsening the prognosis. With this study we have taken a step further, indicating what the treatment guidelines would be in these tumors for the benefit of patients”.
For the moment, the treatment of patients with this double therapy is still in the research phase, but the medical team hopes to soon be able to bring it to clinical practice. “We are close to being able to carry it out in women with breast cancer. Our study has been carried out in preclinical models and, therefore, it still needs to be validated in patients. The next step would be the design of a clinical trial which would include this combination and we can demonstrate that it is more efficient than current therapeutic routes. Given the high incidence of this subtype of breast cancer, we believe that this finding may be of interest from a clinical point of view.”
1Las Cifras del Cáncer en España 2022. Sociedad Española de Oncología. https://seom.org/images/LAS_CIFRAS_DEL_CANCER_EN_ESPANA_2022.pdf
2 M Gamez-Chiachio et al. J Exp Clin Cancer Res. 2022 Sep 26;41(1):285. doi: 10.1186/s13046-022-02497-w. Access: https://jeccr.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s13046-022-02497-w