Types of Targeted Therapy for HER2-Positive Breast Cancer

Updated 
August 31, 2015
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Targeted treatments for HER2-positive breast cancer work by targeting the HER2 proteins or markers on or within cancer cells that help the cells to grow. They attach to HER2 proteins either on the inside or on the outside of a cancer cellinfo-icon and block signals that tell the cells to multiply too quickly.

In this section, you’ll learn more about the different classes of HER2-targeting medicines and how they work to treat breast cancer.

Monoclonal Antibodies

Monoclonal antibodies are large molecules made in a lab that attack a specific proteininfo-icon on the outside of a cellinfo-icon. To your body, these molecules look similar to antibodies it makes to fight germs and infectioninfo-icon. But monoclonal antibodies are designed to attach to a specific receptorinfo-icon only found on cancer cells, such as the HER2 receptor in HER2-positive breast cancer.

Medicines in this class are given by veininfo-icon. Monoclonal antibodies used in breast cancer are:

Tyrosine Kinase Inhibitors

Tyrosine Kinase Inhibitors, or TKIs, are small molecules made in a lab. TKIs look for proteins called tyrosine kinases that signal cancer cells to grow. These medicines block the tyrosine kinases in HER2-positive breast cancer so the cancer cellinfo-icon cannot grow and divide.

TKIs are given as pills. The one FDAinfo-icon-approved medicineinfo-icon in this class for HER2-positive breast cancer is:

Antibody Drug Conjugates

An antibody drug conjugate, or ADC, pairs a powerful chemotherapyinfo-icon medicineinfo-icon with a targeted therapyinfo-icon. The targeted therapy directs the medicine to the cancer cells, so the chemotherapy medicine can be delivered right inside them. This helps limit the side effects of the chemotherapy on healthy cells.

Several ADCs are under study for different types of breast cancer. The one FDAinfo-icon approved antibody drug conjugate for HER2-positive breast cancer is given by veininfo-icon:

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Article August 31, 2015
Article August 31, 2015