The Effects Of Herceptin On Cancer Models And Patients With Her2 + Breast Cancer

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Herceptin (trastuzumab) is a therapeutic monoclonal antibody, which is specifically designed to target HER2 (human epidermal growth factor 2) receptors found on breast cells( Tan, 2010) . HER2 is a receptor protein that is a member of the epidermal growth factor receptor family and is over expressed in approximately 10-20% of breast cancers that have amplification of the HER2 gene (Jatoi, et al., 2010). Herceptin has been found to selectively apply anti-tumor effects in cancer models and patients with HER2+ breast cancer (Gajria & Chandarlapaty, n.d.). Although all normal breast cells present HER2 receptors on their surface, some cells may express more receptors, as high as two million receptors per cell (Vu & Claret, 2012), due to a mutation causing over expression of the HER2 gene. As a result of the increased number of HER2 receptors on the surface of breast cells, more hormones will bind and increased signals are given off, causing the cells to divide quicker and more frequently, resulting in HER2 positive breast cancer.
Herceptin works by binding to the extra HER2 receptors on the cell, so that hormones cannot bind and produce signals to divide. In the absence of Herceptin, HER2 receptors undergo dimerisation (the pairing of receptors), however, in the presence of Herceptin, trastuzumab interferes with dimerisation and inhibits HER2 activation by blocking downstream signalling to inhibit division of cells, see figure 1 (Vu & Claret, 2012). As an antibody, one of the

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