SUMMARY: Breast cancer is the most common cancer among women in the US and about 1 in 8 women (12%) will develop invasive breast cancer during their lifetime. It is estimated that approximately 300,590 new cases of breast cancer will be diagnosed in 2023 and about 43,700 individuals will die of the disease, largely due to metastatic recurrence. Approximately 70% of breast tumors express Estrogen Receptors and/or Progesterone Receptors. The most common subtype of metastatic breast cancer is Hormone Receptor-positive (HR-positive), HER2-negative breast cancer (65% of all metastatic breast tumors), and these patients are often treated with anti-estrogen therapy as first line treatment. However, resistance to hormonal therapy occurs in a majority of the patients, with a median Overall Survival (OS) of 36 months. With the development of Cyclin Dependent Kinases (CDK) 4/6 inhibitors, endocrine therapy plus a CDK4/6 inhibitor is the mainstay, for the management of ER+/HER2-negative metastatic breast cancer, as first line therapy. Even with this therapeutic combination, most patients will eventually experience disease progression, including the development of ESR1 (Estrogen Receptor gene alpha) mutations.
ESR1 (Estrogen Receptor 1) gene mutation is the most common acquired mutation noted in breast tumors as they progress from primary to metastatic setting. These mutations promote ligand independent Estrogen Receptor activation and have been shown to promote resistance to estrogen deprivation therapy. It appears that ESR1 mutations are harbored in metastatic ER-positive breast cancers with prior Aromatase Inhibitor (AI) therapy, but not in primary breast cancers, suggesting that ESR1 mutations may be selected by prior therapy with an AI in advanced breast cancer. In a previously published study (JAMA Oncol.2016;2:1310-1315), ESR1 mutations Y537S and D538G mutations detected in baseline plasma samples from ER+/HER- advanced breast cancer patients, was associated with shorter Overall Survival. In this study it was noted that there was a three-fold increase in the prevalence of these mutations in patients who had failed first line hormonal therapy for metastatic disease, compared with those who were initiating first line therapy for advanced breast cancer (33% versus 11%). It is estimated that 40% of ER-positive, HER2-negative advanced or metastatic breast cancer patients have tumors that harbor ESR1 mutations. It is best to test for ESR1 mutations with a liquid biopsy following progression on an AI and CDK 4/6 inhibitor.
Fulvestrant (FASLODEX®) is a parenteral, Selective Estrogen Receptor Degrader (SERD) and is the only SERD approved for the treatment of postmenopausal women with HR-positive metastatic breast cancer. However, acquired ESR1 mutations can also occur following Fulvestrant treatment, possibly because of poor bioavailability and incomplete ER blockade when administered intramuscularly. There is therefore an urgent unmet need for an alternate SERD that has activity in tumors harboring ESR1 mutations, and has improved bioavailability allowing oral administration.
ORSERDU® (Elacestrant) is an oral, nonsteroidal, Selective Estrogen Receptor Degrader (SERD) that degrades the Estrogen Receptor (ER) in a dose-dependent manner and inhibits estradiol-dependent functions of ER target gene transcription induction and breast cancer cell proliferation. Estradiol-stimulated tumor growth was diminished by ORSERDU® in the HR-positive xenograft models derived from heavily pretreated patients, including models resistant to CDK 4/6 inhibitors, Fulvestrant and those harboring ESR1 mutations Y537S and D538G. In an early Phase I trial, ORSERDU® was noted to have an acceptable safety profile and demonstrated single-agent activity with confirmed Partial Responses in heavily pretreated patients with HR-positive metastatic breast cancer.
EMERALD trial is a multicenter, International, randomized, open-label, Phase III study, designed to evaluate the benefit of ORSERDU® in patients with ER+/HER2- advanced or metastatic breast cancer. In this study, 478 postmenopausal women with ER+/HER2- metastatic breast cancer were randomly assigned 1:1 to receive either ORSERDU® 400 mg orally daily (N=239) or the Standard of Care which included investigator’s choice of Fulvestrant or an Aromatase Inhibitor including Anastrozole, Letrozole, or Exemestane (N=239). Treatment was given until disease progression. Both treatment groups were well balanced. The median patient age was 63 years, and patients must have progressed or relapsed on or after 1 or 2 lines of endocrine therapy for advanced disease, one of which was given in combination with a CDK4/6 inhibitor, had 1 or fewer lines of chemotherapy for advanced disease, and had an ECOG performance status of 0 or 1. ESR1 mutational status was determined by blood circulating tumor deoxyribonucleic acid (ctDNA) using the Guardant360 CDx assay and was limited to ESR1 missense mutations in the ligand binding domain. In the study, 48% (N=228) had tumors with mutated ESR1 and 43% received two prior endocrine therapies. These patients were evenly distributed in both treatment groups. Patients were stratified by ESR1-mutation status, prior treatment with Fulvestrant, and visceral metastases. The co-Primary end points were Progression Free Survival (PFS) in the overall population, and in those with ESR1 mutations. Overall Survival (OS) was a Secondary end point.
This study met both co-Primary endpoints and treatment with ORSERDU® resulted in a statistically significant and clinically meaningful improvement in PFS, compared with Standard of Care treatment. In the group of patients whose tumors had ESR1 mutations, the median PFS was 3.8 months in the ORSERDU® group and 1.9 months in the Standard of Care group (HR=0.55; P=0.0005), reducing the risk of progression or death by 45%. A post-hoc analysis of the PFS results based on the duration of prior CDK4/6 inhibitors usage was presented at San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium (SABCS) in December 2022. The median PFS was 8.6 months in the ORSERDU® group versus 1.9 months in the Standard of Care group, in those patients whose tumors harbored ESR1 mutations and had been treated with a CDK4/6 inhibitors for at least 12 months.
It can be concluded from this study that ORSERDU® is the first oral Selective Estrogen Receptor Degrader for ER-positive, HER2-negative advanced breast cancer patients with ESR1 mutations, and offers a novel therapeutic option for this patient group.
Elacestrant (oral selective estrogen receptor degrader) Versus Standard Endocrine Therapy for Estrogen Receptor–Positive, Human Epidermal Growth Factor Receptor 2–Negative Advanced Breast Cancer: Results From the Randomized Phase III EMERALD Trial. Bidard F-C, Kaklamani VG, Neven P, et al. J Clin Oncol, 1;40(28):3246-3256. DOI:10.1200/JCO.22.00338.