Département d’oncologie médicale, Institut Curie, 26, rue d’Ulm, 75248 Paris Cedex 05, Département de biologie des tumeurs, Institut Curie, 26, rue d’Ulm, 75248 Paris Cedex 05
The detection of overexpression of human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2) in some breast cancer tumors has led to the development of a targeted treatment that is tumor selective, effective at extending life expectancy in the patients with advanced or early breast cancers. Trastuzumab (Herceptin
®), a humanized monoclonal antibody to HER2 is indicated for patients whose tumor demonstrates an amplified copy number for the HER2 oncogene and/or overexpresses the HER2 oncoprotein. Despite a high level of efficacy in combination with chemotherapy, trastuzumab as single agent has limited effectiveness (up to 30 % response rates) and patients who respond to trastuzumab will relapse despite continued treatment. The mechanism of trastuzumab action is not fully understood but has been related to cell cycle inhibition. As to mechanisms of resistance, little is known but many preclinical data raised different hypothesis. Thus, the co-expression of growth factor receptors (EGFR family, IGF-1 R), and the activation of PI3K-Akt pathway, mainly by loss of PTEN function may be responsible for the resistance phenotype. It would be interesting to identify the mechanisms of trastuzumab resistance in breast tumors in order to reverse or prevent it. The characterization of these mechanisms would also provide novel strategies for alternative treatments.