(StatePoint) – As of January 2023, the number of women in the United States with a history of invasive breast cancer is estimated to be 3.1 million and is expected to increase by 12% to 4 million in 2024, according to the American Cancer Society.
Breast cancer is highly treatable when caught at the early stages — there is a 99% five-year survival rate when the cancer is found only in the breast tissue. However, as soon as the cancer spreads to lymph nodes under the arm or to nearby tissues (regional stage), the 5-year survival rate drops to 85%, and once it spreads to other lymph nodes or body parts, (distant stage or metastatic cancer) the 5-year survival rate falls to as low as 27%. These figures suggest there is a significant need for more effective treatments for this deadly cancer.
New immunotherapies may provide the solution for patients with advanced breast cancer and fewer treatments options. Currently under development, Bria-IMT and Bria-OTS from BriaCell Therapeutics (NASDAQ: BCTX), are two drugs that have shown promising results so far in clinical trials, with substantial tumor regression in several patients, even those with metastatic cancer. Both drugs work through a completely novel therapeutic mechanism, using breast cancer cells to generate a strong immune response against breast cancer.
“For many breast cancer patients, the only option left is chemotherapy. We realize how hard chemotherapy is on the body, commonly causing nausea, vomiting, hair loss, lack of appetite, inflammation of the mouth and tongue, and bone marrow suppression, which can lead to serious and at times fatal infections. Recently, immunotherapies have come to the fore as a type of therapy which avoids most of these side effects. Unfortunately, immunotherapy only currently works in a small subset of patients, and then only when given with chemotherapy. We are dedicated to developing new, more effective immunotherapy approaches that have very few side effects and may provide substantial benefits to more patients. We hope our efforts will afford these patients another option that is much better tolerated and can provide improved quality of life and prolong their survival,” says Dr. William Williams, CEO of BriaCell Therapeutics.
In the case of Bria-OTS, a simple saliva test can determine a patient’s cell type so they can receive personalized immunotherapy treatment. Dr. Williams notes that this technology is already being explored for other cancer treatment uses, including prostate cancer, lung cancer, and melanoma. To learn more about the future of cancer treatment, visit briacell.com/about-briacell.
Breast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in U.S. women. Thankfully, drugs on the near horizon may transform the way we think about treating the disease, particularly in its later stages, and provide new hope to patients.