HER2 is over-expressed in approximately 25% to 30% of human metastatic breast cancers, primarily due to gene amplification. There are currently two HER2-targeted therapies approved for clinical use, the monoclonal HER2 antibody trastuzumab and the EGFR/HER2 dual tyrosine kinase inhibitor lapatinib. Although both agents show clinical benefit in a subset of patients with metastatic breast cancer, many patients with HER2-over-expressing metastatic breast tumors do not respond to these agents. Furthermore, those who do show an initial response generally demonstrate disease progression, on average in less than one year. It has become clear that HER2 expression status alone does not adequately predict response to HER2-targeted therapy. Identification and clinical validation of molecular predictors of response to trastuzumab and lapatinib is critical for further personalizing treatment and improving clinical benefit for patients whose tumors over-express HER2. In this review, we discuss published data describing potential predictors of response or resistance to trastuzumab and lapatinib. While a discussion of the preclinical work is provided, the emphasis is placed on potential predictors that have been studied in clinical specimens such as tumor tissue or serum obtained from patients treated with HER2-targeted therapy. The present analysis and synthesis of the available literature therefore contribute towards an emerging knowledgebase to personalize breast cancer treatment taking into factors including but beyond HER2 expression.
Keywords: Breast cancer, erbB2, lapatinib, molecular predictor, targeted intervention, trastuzumab
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