Herceptin is the trade name of the drug trastuzumab. It was approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration in 1998 for the treatment of metastatic HER 2 over-expressing breast cancer.
In 2006, it was approved for use in early stage breast cancer, in combination with standard breast cancer chemotherapy.
Studies have indicated that Herceptin improves survival rates in both early and late-stage breast cancer, known as metastatic cancer. In 2014, it was reported that Herceptin, combined with chemotherapy, increased the 10-year chance of survival among breast cancer patients from 75 percent to 84 percent.
How does Herceptin work?
Herceptin is a monoclonal antibody, and it interferes with the HER2/neu receptor.
Herceptin is a drug that is helping women to survive breast cancer.
A monoclonal antibody is a biological treatment that is used for some kinds of cancer, either with chemotherapy or alone.
Cells produce proteins, and the monoclonal antibody recognizes and attaches itself to a particular protein.
Human epidermal growth factor receptor (HER) proteins affect the growth, adhesion, migration, differentiation, and survival of cells.
HER is found at high levels on cancer cells. This may explain why cancer cells divide so rapidly.
Different antibodies work in different ways, depending on their target protein, so that different antibodies will be used for different cancers.
The antibodies used in cancer therapy have various ways of attacking the cancer cells.
Triggering the immune system to attack the unwanted cells
Blocking the signals that tell the cancer cells to divide
Blocking the molecules that prevent the immune system from working
Carrying radiation or cancer drugs to the cancer cells.
HER2 is a type of HER that can play a role in the development of breast cancer.
The task of an HER receptor is to transmit molecular signals to the insides of cells from the surface. These signals switch genes on and off.
In breast cancers, the HER2 receptor is faulty. Its “on” switch never goes to “off,” so the breast cells reproduce uncontrollably, and breast cancer results.
Herceptin sticks to the HER2 protein, and it prevents the epidermal growth factor from getting into the cancer cells.
In this way, Herceptin stops the breast cancer cells from reproducing uncontrollably.
Who can use it?