The Breast Cancer Research Foundation awards grants to 250 investigators around the world

New York, NY – October 1, 2021The Breast Cancer Research Foundation (BCRF) announced its $47.5 million commitment to fund breast cancer research for 2021-22, supporting 250 scientists at leading academic and medical institutions around the world across 14 countries. BCRF-funded research spans the entire spectrum of cancer—from studying the most basic biology of a cancer cell to developing innovative treatments and improving quality of life.

"This year, breast cancer became the most common cancer worldwide—surpassing lung cancer for the first time and impacting 2.3 million people," said BCRF President & CEO Myra Biblowit. “At BCRF, we are tremendously grateful for our donors, partners, and volunteers who remained steadfast in their commitment to end breast cancer, even in the face of tremendous challenges, ensuring the continuation of lifesaving breakthroughs. Our global legion of investigators represents the very brightest minds in science working tirelessly to eradicate metastatic disease and prevent breast cancer entirely.”

“The potential and promise of breast cancer research have never been greater,” said BCRF Chief Scientific Officer Dorraya El-Ashry, PhD. “Yet, metastatic breast cancer (MBC) diagnoses have also increased significantly, and future estimates show a steady and alarming rise. We can’t take our foot off the pedal. While we’ve made significant, lifesaving strides in understanding and treating MBC, there are still an estimated 168,000 people living with the disease in the U.S alone. Simultaneously, we must tackle prevention to reduce breast cancer incidence entirely with the same personalized approach that has led to dramatic declines in breast cancer deaths.”

Learn more about our research projects by tuning in to BCRF’s official podcast, “Investigating Breast Cancer,” featuring one-on-one interviews with the world’s leading breast cancer experts. Available on iTunes and bcrf.org/podcasts. And keep up with the latest developments in breast cancer research on BCRF’s blog, The Progress Report.

BCRF funds a diverse array of research across the entire spectrum of breast cancer, including the following major developments:

BCRF IS THE LARGEST PRIVATE FUNDER OF METASTATIC RESEARCH IN THE U.S.

Each year, BCRF significantly invests in research for metastatic breast cancer, which comprises approximately 40 percent of BCRF’s research portfolio, funding 76 projects this year alone. Studies include understanding the basic biology of how a breast cancer cell develops the ability to spread throughout the body, discovering biomarkers that can predict which cancers are most likely to spread, and developing new therapies to treat and prevent metastasis.

BCRF’s flagship MBC research program, AURORA, supported by the Evelyn H. Lauder Founder’s Fund, is the largest international effort dedicated exclusively to MBC research. This year, both AURORA U.S. and EU announced exciting results from the most comprehensive molecular analysis of metastatic breast cancer to date. Preliminary results from both AURORA studies have revealed changes in molecular subtypes, genomic landscape, and the immune microenvironment in metastatic tumors compared to the matched primary tumors. AURORA U.S. is currently enrolling patients from 10 U.S. centers to their prospective study that will map the genomic changes that occur during tumor progression to gain a deeper understanding of the underlying biology driving metastatic disease. AURORA EU has enrolled over 1,000 patients to date and will launch a sub-study enrolling patients with lobular and triple-negative MBC, as well as those who relapse after many years since their first diagnosis.

IN 2021-2022:

BCRF INVESTIGATORS ARE STUDYING THE ROOT OF ALL CANCER CELLS

Research in tumor biology is the foundation of nearly all breast cancer research and makes up more than half of BCRF’s research grants portfolio, totaling 155 projects studying cancer initiation genes and pathways, tumor growth drivers, and biomarkers. Without sustained funding in the fundamental biology of cancer, we could not have made the advances we have in precision medicine and targeted therapies. BCRF’s continued investment in basic research is moving the needle forward in all areas of study in new and innovative ways.

BCRF CONTINUES EFFORTS TO UNDERSTAND INHERITED RISK OF CANCER

BCRF continues to invest in research studying genetics, family history, race, and ethnicity to better predict risk, with 37 projects funded this year. Studies go beyond the well-known breast cancer susceptibility genes, BRCA1and BRCA2, to understand the impact of lesser-known genes (i.e., PALB2, CHEK, and ATM). This includes investigating the cumulative effect of common non-pathogenic single nucleotide mutations on heritable breast cancer risk, and identifying prevention and screening strategies for individuals at high risk.

BCRF RESEARCH SHEDS LIGHT ON LIFESTYLE AND PREVENTION STRATEGIES

While research has led to advances that dramatically reduced deaths due to breast cancer, preventing breast cancer remains a critical challenge. BCRF continues to support research to advance our understanding of the risk factors of breast cancer, funding 40 projects that include studies to understand the relationship between obesity and breast cancer risk; identify environmental factors that may influence risk; and lifestyle intervention strategies to reduce the risk of and prevent breast cancer. More recently, BCRF launched the Precision Prevention Initiative (PPI). Currently in its third year, the goal of the PPI is to accelerate personalized approaches for risk assessment that will identify those at greatest risk of breast cancer, before it starts. Projects include applications of machine learning for precise interpretation of screening mammograms, artificial intelligence to identify markers of risk for triple-negative breast cancers, and characterizing premalignant lesions to identify those with a high likelihood of becoming invasive, aggressive disease.

BCRF SCIENTISTS SEARCH FOR THE MOST EFFECTIVE, TREATMENTS

BCRF investigators are leading the field in the search for new therapeutic strategies for breast cancer. Our portfolio consists of nearly 100 projects seeking to improve existing therapies and advance new ones. In the last year, BCRF’s Drug Research Collaborative launched several exciting studies exploring ways to improve response to CDK4/6 inhibitors in metastatic estrogen receptor–positive breast cancer, including studies to identify mechanisms of resistance, explore the anti-tumor and pro-immune effects of these agents, and reveal genetic mediators that diminish the effectiveness of this class of therapies.

BCRF INVESTS IN QUALITY OF LIFE DURING AND AFTER BREAST CANCER TREATMENT

There are more than 3.8 million women in the U.S. with a history of breast cancer with an estimated 168,000 people living with metastatic disease. BCRF is funding 23 projects seeking answers to the variety of physical, emotional, and psychosocial challenges faced during and after treatment, so that patients are not only living longer, but are able to live full and productive lives.

 

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