New drug offers hope to Sheffield breast cancer victims

Prof Rob Coleman in the Sheffield Cancer Research Centre at Weston Park Hospital.
Prof Rob Coleman in the Sheffield Cancer Research Centre at Weston Park Hospital.
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A DRUG trialled in Sheffield which ‘significantly extends’ the lives of patients with an advanced form of breast cancer has been approved for use.

Tests showed that the drug – called Perjeta – could be more effective than existing medications in treating an aggressive form of the disease known as HER2-positive breast cancer.

Sheffield Cancer Research Centre, based at Weston Park Hospital, was one of the key centres involved in the studies.

The trials found that, on average, patients lived more than six months longer without their cancer worsening, if Perjeta was taken along with chemotherapy and the drug Herceptin.

The European Medicines Agency has now issued a licence for Perjeta, meaning it could soon be prescribed on the NHS.

Prof Rob Coleman, head of the research centre, said the approval was ‘a landmark in the fight against HER2-positive’.

“Perjeta has been shown not only to stall cancer growth for longer than the current standard of care, but also to extend the lives of patients – giving them more time with their family and loved ones,” he said.

HER2 is a growth-promoting protein which develops on the surface of cancer cells, encouraging the disease to spread.

The strain accounts for up to 25 per cent of all breast cancers.

Rachel Greig, from charity Breakthrough Breast Cancer, said: “The benefits are very clear. While it is not a cure, women can manage their disease for longer with limited side effects, so we’re thrilled with the outcome.”

Perjeta still needs to be given the green light by the drug-rationing body NICE before it can be offered to patients on the NHS.