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Pharmaprojects Highlights Changing Trends In The R&D Focus Of Drugs Targeting Breast Cancer

10/19/2005 5:09:18 PM

LONDON, September 27 /PRNewswire/ -- On the occasion of the 16th EORTC-NCI-AACR meeting, Prostate Cancer Awareness month in the US and the forthcoming Breast Cancer Awareness month in October in the UK, Pharmaprojects, the leading database tracking pharmaceutical R&D worldwide, identifies a changing trend in the R&D focus of drugs for the treatment of breast cancer compared with those being developed for prostate cancer.

Traditionally, drugs developed for both types of cancer have been largely focused on targeting the hormones involved in the respective diseases. In the field of breast cancer, it seems R&D is progressing faster as a growing number of products are taking a more specific approach, namely by targeting antigens expressed by tumour cells.

Analysis of Pharmaprojects data indicates that research efforts into prostate cancer drugs have focused on products acting as luteinising hormone releasing factor agonists, thereby decreasing the levels of circulating testosterone. Since 1995, there has been an almost two fold increase in the number of LHRH agonists under development for the treatment of cancer (see Figure 1 on

Pharmaprojects shows a progressive increase in the number of LHRH agonists entering, in particular, Phase II clinical trials since 1997. The data also indicates a decline in the number of LHRH agonists entering preclinical development between 2000-2003, but in 2004, the number rose again, suggesting that this was only a temporary decline. This data implies that hormone-dependent therapies remain one of the primary focuses of R&D in prostate cancer therapeutics.

Similarly, the hormone estrogen has also been widely targeted in the treatment of breast cancer with the development of estrogen antagonists. As Figure 2 shows (please view on, since 1995, there has been a less clear trend in the number of estrogen antagonists under development for this indication.

However, over the same period, there has been a vast increase in the number of ErbB-2 tyrosine kinase inhibitors under development for cancer (see Figure 3 on These products, which target the ErbB-2 tyrosine kinase, also known as Her-2, take a much more targeted approach to tackling breast cancer. This means that patients can be tested to see if they have Her-2-expressing breast cancer before treatment, to ascertain whether or not an ErbB-2 tyrosine kinase inhibitor is likely to have efficacy. Such agents include trastuzumab (Herceptin), and may have fewer side-effects compared to hormonal-based drugs. This targeted approach may be the beginning of the 'next-generation' of cancer drugs for this disease.

As the Pharmaprojects data shows, R&D efforts continue to expand in the fields of both prostate and breast cancer. Previously, development of drugs that targeted circulating levels of testosterone and estrogen dominated R&D for these cancers. However, as breast cancer becomes better understood, efforts are progressing and focus is being directed towards targeting tumour-associated antigens rather than hormones. Further characterization of the pathology of prostate cancer is just beginning, as prostate-specific membrane antigen antagonists enter clinical development, and will, in time, no doubt lead to more targeted approaches to treat this killer disease too.

The 16th EORTC-NCI-AACR takes place this month in Geneva, Switzerland from September 28th - October 1st. Pharmaprojects will be attending the conference to report on the latest developments and findings in the field of cancer research.

About Pharmaprojects

Pharmaprojects, the leading database tracking pharmaceutical development from early preclinical study through to launch or discontinuation, has 24 years' experience as an information provider to the healthcare industry. Pharmaprojects uses a fully searchable application that allows you to pinpoint the specific information you are looking for, whether it be comprehensive drug profiles, a competitor's pipeline or licensing opportunities. Available weekly on the Web and monthly via CD-ROM format; Pharmaprojects is also accessible weekly via online hosts PJB Publications, Dialog and DataStar, Ovid Technologies and STN International.

For editorial information: For product information: Ian Lloyd, Managing Editor Hayley McKechnie, Marketing Manager Telephone: +44-(0)20-7017-6886 Telephone: +44-(0)20-7017-6860 Email: Email: Website:


CONTACT: For editorial information: Ian Lloyd, Managing Editor,Telephone: +44-(0)20-7017-6886, Email:;For product information: Hayley McKechnie, Marketing Manager,Telephone: +44-(0)20-7017-6860,

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