Learning From the San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium, At a Distance
There’s a ton of BC and women’s health news this week. But yours truly is, among other things, not in San Antonio where is the 34th annual San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium.
NTW, quite a few major news outlets are covering this business closely and carefully, as are some bloggers I know. Upon reading the news, I was simultaneously impressed by the number of new drugs for metastatic breast cancer that are being tried, and daunted upon realizing how difficult (read: IMPOSSIBLE) besides costly it’ll be to sort out these drugs used in so many combinations. Rather than recapitulating the data, some of which was published on-line this week in the NEJM, and most of which are still preliminary, I thought I’d just list some of the drugs being tested, and add a bit about how they’re administered and might work:
Entinostat is an oral histone deacetyalase (HDAC) inhibitor that’s not yet available in the US by any prescription off protocol.
Everolimus is a tablet (i.e. a pill) designed to inhibit an enzyme called mTOR. It’s sold for use in some cancers under the brand name Afinitor.
Exemestane is a tablet that reduces estrogen production. It’s an aromatase inhibitor sold as Aromasin. (This drug was approved by the FDA in 2005; it’s not quite so new, but is being tested in distinct settings, mainly in women with early-stage BC.)
Pertuzumab is a monoclonal antibody that binds Her2, in a distinct way from Herceptin.
Obviously this is but a partial list of drugs discussed at the meeting. Still, it’s heartening to this one oncologist to review even a short list of diverse new agents that might arrest the disease.
The history of the SABCS is interesting. From the organization’s website: the first meeting was held in November 11, 1978 during what’s said to have been “Breast Cancer Awareness Week.” The original conference’s sponsors included the Cancer Therapy and Research Center (CTRC, at UT San Antonio), the Texas Division of the ACS, the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio (UTHSCSA) and the Bexar County Medical Society. Some 141 physicians and surgeons attended what’s described as one-day course.
Now, the SABCS hosts a 5-day program with physicians, scientists, patients, advocates, reporters…from around the world. It’s jointly-sponsored by the CTRC and American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) and the Baylor College of Medicine.
Next year, maybe I’ll go to the 35th annual event, and see what’s really happening in San Antonio.