trastuzumab, Herceptin

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GENERIC NAME: trastuzumab

BRAND NAME: Herceptin

DRUG CLASS AND MECHANISM: Trastuzumab is an intravenous drug that is used to treat breast cancer that has spread beyond the breast (metastasized). It belongs to a class of drugs called monoclonal antibodies. Other monoclonal antibodies include rituximab (Rituxan) and gemtuzumab ozogamicin (Mylotarg). The cells of cancers have various receptors on their surfaces. Chemicals bind to these receptors and cause changes within the cancer cells. One of the receptors that occurs in about one-third of all breast cancers is called HER2. HER2 is known to control the growth and development of the cancer cells and the production of new cancer cells. If HER2 receptors are present in large numbers on the cancer cells (often referred to as overexpression of HER2), then the cancer cells may multiply and grow quickly. Normally, the immune system produces antibodies that will detect and attack HER2 receptors to slow the growth of cancer cells However, if HER2 is present in large numbers, the immune system may be unable to control HER2. Trastuzumab is a man-made antibody developed using molecular cloning and recombinant DNA technology. Trastuzumab is thought to block the HER2 receptors when there is overexpression, thereby blocking growth of the cancer . Trastuzumab was approved by the FDA in 1998.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 7/27/2015

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