SABCS15: New data determine mechanism and potential benefit of eribulin

Several abstracts presented recently at the 2015 San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium (8–12 December, TX, USA) have provided new perspectives on both the mechanism of action and the potential clinical benefit of the targeted therapy eribulin.

Eribulin is the initial agent in the halichondrin class of microtubule dynamics inhibitors developed by Eisai (Tokyo, Japan) and is a simplified, synthetic version of a product isolated from the marine sponge Halichondria okadai.

A study of particular note from the meeting provided new data supporting previous findings that eribulin is able to reverse the epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition of cancer cells, restricting metastasis by sequestering E-cadherin within the cells.

“The results of this study allow us to further understand how eribulin works at a cellular level. The fact that eribulin is able to reverse the epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition is important because this leaves the cancer cells weaker and less aggressive than they would have otherwise been. This then means that subsequent chemotherapies later in the treatment cycle might prove more effective because eribulin has weakened the cancer,” commented investigator Susan Mooberry of the University of Texas Health Science Center (TX, USA).

Another of the eribulin studies covered at the meeting suggests that individuals with luminal B breast cancer appear to gain the most benefit from treatment with the agent. This investigation highlights that women with luminal B disease who receive neoadjuvant eribulin can potentially see their disease convert to the luminal A form. Luminal A breast cancer is associated with a better prognosis when compared with luminal B and this switch could once more render the disease more susceptible to subsequent treatments.

“The results of this study suggest that not only is eribulin an effective treatment option in a form of breast cancer with a poorer prognosis, but that the treatment may in fact convert the disease to luminal A – a form of the disease with an improved outlook for patients. These data are very encouraging for patients and clinicians alike,” commented investigator Javier Cortés of Vall d’Hebron University Hospital (Spain).

Other studies presented explored the potential of eribulin in combination with other therapies such as immunotherapy pembrolizumab.

“We are very proud that there are a total of sixteen eribulin abstracts at this year’s San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium and believe that this highlights the long-term role that eribulin has in metastatic breast cancer. It is exciting to see the additional mode of action data and also promising to see this important treatment being explored in combination with other therapies, something which should give us hope that eribulin will continue to offer benefit to patients and clinicians alike for the foreseeable future,” commented Gary Hendler, President & CEO Eisai EMEA and President, Eisai Oncology Global Business Unit.

Eribulin is currently only indicated in Europe for the treatment of adult patients with locally advanced or metastatic breast cancer who have progressed after at least one chemotherapeutic regimen for advanced disease. This prior therapy should have included an anthracycline and a taxane unless patients were not suitable for these treatments