ASCO 2015: Clinical trial assesses options for triple-negative breast cancer

May 28, 2015 | by Nicole Levine

A clinical trial currently being conducted at City of Hope and elsewhere suggests that researchers are developing improved treatment options for young women with advanced triple-negative breast cancer, a particularly difficult-to-treat disease.

breast cancer A trial being presented at ASCO finds a combination of carboplatin and a PARP-inhibitor is a promising approach to breast cancer, shown, that has spread.

George Somlo, M.D., a professor in the departments of Medical Oncology & Therapeutics Research and Hematology & Hematopoietic Cell Transplantation at City of Hope, will present early results from the trial this week at the American Society of Clinical Oncology’s (ASCO) annual meeting in Chicago. The meeting, May 29 through June 2, will draw oncologists from around the country to discuss research, treatment and best practices.

Somlo's presentation – about a randomized, phase II national study – is focused on a particular regimen for women with advanced breast cancer who have a BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutation. The study examines the effectiveness of a PARP inhibitor known veliparib. Participants in the study either receive the drug on its own or in combination with carboplatin.

“We’re learning that triple-negative breast cancer consists of at least a half-dozen subtypes, each of which may require personalized therapies,” Somlo said. “We must intensify our current laboratory and translational research to improve next-generation clinical trials for much better control and eventual cure of triple-negative Stage 4 metastatic breast cancer.”

A cancer is considered triple-negative when it doesn’t respond to any known targeted therapies; such cancer occurs in about 15 percent of women with breast cancer. But, as more tumor targets are identified and the subtypes of triple-negative breast cancer become more clear, the treatments can become more targeted as well.{C}

Somlo has been studying options for these patients in multiple trials.

At ASCO, he will share findings on the carboplatin/veliparib trial with colleagues from around the globe in a poster discussion session.

The placebo-controlled multicenter trial involves patients with inoperable, metastatic HER2-negative breast cancer who have already undergone multiple treatments. The goal of the study is to evaluate the addition of the PARP-inhibitor to carboplatin therapies to see if the combination of the drugs results in increased survival or stops progression of the disease.

Early results indicate that the combination of the two drugs followed by maintenance with the PARP-inhibitor is a promising approach that warrants further study in a randomized trial.

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Learn more about breast cancer treatment and research at City of Hope.

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