Nationwide effort to test breast cancer drugs

March 17, 2010 3:01:35 PM PDT
Breast cancer research is now getting personal.It's being called an unprecedented nationwide effort to test promising new breast cancer drugs.

The difference is these drugs are individually targeted to the characteristics of each patient's tumor.

Loyola University is one of 17 centers participating in the I-Spy 2 project.

Five experimental breast cancer drugs will be tested.

The goal is to use DNA to match the best drug to each individual patient and to more quickly toss out approaches that do not work or that are too toxic.

Dr. Kathy Albain is the lead breast cancer specialist at the Loyola site.

" As we go through this study, we will very quickly learn based on which drugs are picked for her whether these drugs are working the way they should be working. And we will learn that quickly, and if that drug is deemed a winner, it goes on to further testing. If not, we very quickly learned it did not help, and a new drug falls into the trial in a seamless fashion," said Dr. Albain of the Loyola Univ. Med. Ctr.

The University of Chicago Medical Center also is involved in the study, which probably will not begin in the Chicago area until this summer.

Women in the trial will also have chemotherapy along with the drugs, which have already been used in patients with advanced stage breast cancer.

The five-year experiment is an unusual collaboration in which three companies are working with the government and non-profit groups to test these drugs.