BACKGROUND: Breast cancer is the most frequent cancers and is the second leading cause of cancer death among women. Trastuzumab is an effective treatment, the first monoclonal antibody directed against the human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2). To inform the development of other effective treatments we report summary estimates of efficacy of trastuzumab on survival and tumour volume in animal models of breast cancer.
METHODS: We searched PubMed and EMBASE systematically to identify publications testing trastuzumab in animal models of breast cancer. Data describing tumour volume, median survival and animal features were extracted and we assessed quality using a 12-item checklist. We analysed the impact of study design and quality and evidence for publication bias.
RESULTS: We included data from 83 studies reporting 169 experiments using 2076 mice. Trastuzumab treatment caused a substantial reduction in tumour growth, with tumours in treated animals growing to 32.6% of the volume of tumours in control animals (95%CI 27.8%-38.2%). Median survival was prolonged by a factor of 1.45 (1.30-1.62). Many study design and quality features accounted for between-study heterogeneity and we found evidence suggesting publication bias.
CONCLUSION: We have found trastuzumab to be effective in animal breast cancer models across a range of experimental circumstances. However the presence of publication bias and a low prevalence of measures to reduce bias provide a focus for future improvements in preclinical breast cancer research.