Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently approved Perjeta (pertuzumab), a
new anti-HER2 therapy, to treat patients with HER2-positive late-stage
(metastatic) breast cancer. U.S.
Intended for patients who have not received prior treatment for metastatic breast cancer with an anti-HER2 therapy or chemotherapy, Perjeta is combined with trastuzumab, another anti-HER2 therapy, and docetaxel, a type of chemotherapy.
HER2 is a protein involved in normal cell growth. It is found in increased amounts on some types of cancer cells (HER2-positive), including some breast cancers. In these HER2-positive breast cancers, the increased amount of the HER2 protein contributes to cancer cell growth and survival.
Perjeta is a humanized monoclonal antibody, manufactured through biotechnology methods. It is administered intravenously and is believed to work by targeting a different part of the HER-protein than trastuzumab, resulting in further reduction in growth and survival of HER2-positive breast cancer cells.
In Western countries, breast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer-related death among women. About 20 percent of breast cancers have increased amounts of the HER2 protein.
The most common side effects observed in patients receiving Perjeta in combination with trastuzumab and docetaxel were diarrhea, hair loss, a decrease in infection-fighting white blood cells, nausea, fatigue, rash, and nerve damage (peripheral sensory neuropathy).