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Exploring New Possibilities in Breast Cancer Care

A new experimental drug may enhance the effectiveness of certain chemotherapy drugs when treating advanced metastatic breast cancer, according to Eleni Andreopoulou, MD, a medical oncologist in the Breast Cancer Program of Montefiore Einstein Center for Cancer Care and principal investigator of a promising new clinical trial.

Dr. Andreopoulou, Attending Physician, Department of Oncology, and Assistant Professor of Medicine at Albert Einstein College of Medicine, and her colleagues are studying whether low-dose continuous metronomic cyclophosphamide, an existing drug, is more effective on its own or in combination with veliparib, a new drug. The concept, rationale, design eligibility criteria and methodology of the trial were recently presented at the American Society of Clinical Oncology's (ASCO) 2011 annual meeting in Chicago.

The ongoing, randomized, double-blind Phase II trial is funded by the National Cancer Institute, and conducted through the New York Cancer Consortium with Albert Einstein College of Medicine as the lead institution. Dr. Andreopoulou says that preclinical and early phase clinical data support the rationale of this trial. Veliparib (or ABT-888) is what's known as a PARP, or Poly (ADP-ribose) polymerase, inhibitor, a class of drugs in clinical development. PARP enzymes play a role in repairing damaged DNA found in cancer cells or caused by chemotherapy. Recent data also suggests that hormone receptor positive breast cancer has DNA defects which can be targeted by PARP inhibitors in combination with chemotherapy. "People are very interested in this new class of drugs," Dr. Andreopoulou says.

Approximately 200,000 women are diagnosed with breast cancer in the United States each year. Patients in the Bronx often present with more advanced stage breast cancer, which is more difficult to treat, explained Dr. Andreopoulou. Metastatic breast cancer remains incurable and current standard treatments are limited.

"Montefiore and Einstein are taking the lead in conducting important clinical trials of promising novel therapies to provide access to new therapies for the local patient population," Dr. Andreopoulou says.

ASCO's annual meeting is North America's most prestigious cancer conference, attracting more than 30,000 physicians, researchers and other health care professionals from all over the world.

The following Montefiore medical oncologists also presented at the event: Roman Perez-Soler, MD, Chairman and Chief, Department of Oncology, and the Gutman Professor of Medicine and Associate Director for Clinical Research at Einstein; Missak Haigentz, MD, Department of Oncology, and Associate Professor of Medicine at Einstein; and Sanjay Goel, MD, Department of Oncology, and Associate Professor of Medicine at Einstein.