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Disease Markers
Volume 2017 (2017), Article ID 7849108, 14 pages
Review Article

Predicting the Efficacy of HER2-Targeted Therapies: A Look at the Host

Molecular Targeting Unit, Department of Research, Fondazione IRCCS Istituto Nazionale dei Tumori, Milan, Italy

Correspondence should be addressed to Tiziana Triulzi

Received 25 August 2017; Accepted 21 November 2017; Published 18 December 2017

Academic Editor: Paul Span

Copyright © 2017 Martina Di Modica et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


HER2 is overexpressed in 20% of invasive breast cancers (BCs) and correlates with a more aggressive disease. Until the advent of targeted agents, HER2 was associated with worse outcomes. Rationally designed HER2-targeted agents have been developed and introduced into clinical practice for women with HER2-amplified BC, improving disease-free and overall survival for primary and metastatic tumors. Trastuzumab, a recombinant humanized anti-HER2 monoclonal antibody, combined with chemotherapy, remains the standard of care for patients with HER2-positive BCs. However, many patients do not respond to this agent, whereas newer drugs have proven to be efficacious in clinical trials. The identification of biomarkers that select sensitive tumors and patients who will benefit from these new agents would help the incorporation of these therapies, limiting the risk of side effects and overtreatment and improving the outcomes of all patients with early-stage HER2-positive BC. We review the mechanisms of action of HER2-targeting agents, focusing on the involvement of the immune system and related predictive biomarkers.