Role of trastuzumab emtansine in the treatment of HER2-positive breast cancer

Drew R. Oostra, Erin R. Macrae

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


Trastuzumab is a monoclonal antibody that is used in the treatment of breast cancer. Trastuzumab targets the human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2) receptor on breast cancer cells that express this tyrosine kinase receptor. These cancers are referred to as HER2-positive breast cancer. The original studies of trastuzumab showed improved survival in metastatic breast cancer; however, resistance often develops. In the adjuvant setting, women often progress despite therapy that includes trastuzumab. Antibody-drug conjugates are a new class of powerful drugs designed to target high-dose chemotherapy directly to the cancer cells. Trastuzumab emtansine is one of these antibody-drug conjugates and was the first Food and Drug Administration approved drug for a solid tumor. Emtansine is a potent antimicrotubule agent. Trastuzumab is used to target this potent chemotherapy agent directly to the HER2-expressing cancer cells. This review article will summarize the evidence from the preclinical studies, summarize evidence from the clinical trials, discuss current clinical trials, discuss current approval of trastuzumab emtansine, and discuss future directions of research.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)103-113
Number of pages11
JournalBreast Cancer: Targets and Therapy
StatePublished - 2014


  • Breast cancer
  • HER2
  • Kadcyla®
  • T-DM1
  • Trastuzumab emtansine

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