PRESS RELEASE: New York, NY – October 2, 2017 – The Breast Cancer Research Foundation (BCRF) today announced a $59.5 million commitment to breast cancer research for 2017-2018. Its largest investment to date, the grants will support the work of more than 275 scientists at leading academic and medical institutions in 15 countries. BCRF funded research spans the entire spectrum of cancer – from the most basic biology of a cancer cell to developing innovative new treatments to improving quality of life.
"BCRF was founded for the sole purpose of advancing breast cancer research. Today, we stand as the largest private funder of breast cancer research in the world," said Myra Biblowit, President & CEO of BCRF. “We’ve seen the impact of research—nationwide mortality rates have decreased by 38 percent over the last 25 years. However, more than 40,000 women and men continue to die from the disease each year in the U.S. alone. BCRF remains dedicated to research until the numbers of deaths from breast cancer is zero. Research is the only path towards achieving that goal."
Key Areas of Research for 2017-2018
BCRF funds a diverse array of research topics and areas of focus, including the following major impact areas:
Metastatic Breast Cancer Research
This year, nearly one-third of BCRF‘s grants (more than $18 million) are focused on metastatic (Stage IV) breast cancer. Studies include understanding the biology of why and how cancer cells spread, the development of new treatments for advanced disease, and correlative studies to discover biomarkers that can predict which breast cancers are more likely to spread.
BCRF has committed $31 million to date for the Evelyn H. Lauder Founder’s Fund, a multi-year international program dedicated to research in metastatic breast cancer (MBC). The flagship programs of the Founder’s Fund Initiative are the AURORA programs in the US and Europe. These programs represent the first large-scale global efforts to unravel the biology of MBC.
Math Against Cancer
In today’s world of rapidly advancing technologies, a cross-disciplinary approach is the only way to address the most persistent challenges in cancer: collaborating across disciplines will accelerate discoveries that can change the landscape of breast cancer.
BCRF is advancing precision medicine by supporting efforts that integrate novel mathematical methods with cancer biology to understand the evolution of cancer, treatment response, and an individual’s risk of treatment-related side effects. These efforts will provide new tools to predict new treatment approaches that can be tested in the laboratory and ultimately in the clinic.
In partnership with the Jayne Koskinas Ted Giovanis (JKTG) Foundation for Health and Policy, BCRF is supporting three multi-institutional collaborations to provide new insights into tumor growth and metastasis and the mechanisms of drug resistance. The projects pair computational scientists with biologists to conduct studies s that will advance our understanding of cancer biology and ultimately improve clinical outcomes.
BCRF is committing nearly $20 million to research aimed at improving treatments for breast cancer patients. These studies address critical gaps in the clinical management of breast cancer including why a treatment fails some patients and not others, why tumors become resistant to drugs, and discovering biomarkers that can match patients to the right therapy.
BCRF launched the Drug Research Collaborative with an initial $15 million investment aimed at bridging the gap between academic research and patient access to new therapies will accelerate the discovery and clinical testing of new treatments and novel combinations for breast cancer.
BCRF is investing over $14 million in research focused on immunotherapies. These studies are aimed at improving response to immunotherapy in breast cancer with novel combinations, clinical trials and vaccine development and hold promise for patients with triple negative breast cancer, the most aggressive form of the disease.
Inherited Susceptibility and Tumor Genomics
Family history, genetics and race/ ethnicity all contribute to an individual’s risk of breast cancer. Tumor genetic factors that are not inherited also influence the outcomes in breast cancer. BCRF is investing over $15 million in research in inherited susceptibility and tumor genomics. Studies include understanding how mutations in the breast cancer genes BRCA1 and BRCA2 modify risk; identifying new breast cancer susceptibility genes and predicting the risk they have on developing breast cancer; and understanding how intratumor heterogeneity—the biologically distinct profiles of cells that make up the tumor—influence tumor behavior, response to treatment, recurrence and metastasis.
Early Diagnosis and Prevention
BCRF is committing more than $12 million to early detection and prevention research. These projects include studies that are shedding new light on the underlying relationship between obesity and breast cancer risk; designing novel lifestyle intervention strategies; discovering biomarkers in blood and tissue that can identify persons at risk; characterizing premalignant changes in the breast and tissue architecture that promote cancer development; testing novel alternative prevention approaches in high risk women; understanding the early influence of diet and weight on future breast cancer risk; testing new chemo preventive agents and improving adherence to standard chemoprevention therapies, such as tamoxifen and aromatase inhibitors.
BCRF is committed to addressing the diverse factors affecting disparities in breast cancer outcomes. BCRF has committed nearly $3 million in studies to understand the differences in genetic and biological risk factors across populations; improve access to genetic testing in high-risk minority groups; as well as access to screening and diagnosis, quality care and affordable medications to underserved populations and patients in low resources settings.
Breast Cancer as a Growing Global Threat
As cancer’s toll grows around the world, it is in pace to replace infectious diseases as the single greatest threat to global health and development. In fact, the World Health Organization predicts that more people will die from cancer by 2030 than from AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis combined. BCRF’s global presence is reflected in its support of 30 international researchers in 14 countries totaling more than $5 million in grants outside the US.
Learn more about these projects by tuning in to “Investigating Breast Cancer,” the official podcast of BCRF. Available on iTunes and bcrfcure.org/podcasts.