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Aleix Prat, PhD
University of Barcelona
Head, Medical Oncology Department
Institute for Biomedical Research August Pi I Sunyer
American Association for Cancer Research
Goal: To let the biology of the cancer inform and guide treatment strategy.
Impact: The majority of breast cancers required hormones for growth. These cancers are treatable with anti-estrogen therapies, but up to 25 percent will come back after seemingly successful therapy. Dr. Prat is hoping to identify markers that can help guide treatment choices. His research will help match the patient with the most effective treatment for their cancer.
What’s next: Dr. Prat will analyze tumor and blood samples from patients enrolled in an ongoing clinical trial. They hope to identify changes in genes that could inform how well a patient may respond to the therapy and why some will develop resistance.
Hormone receptor (HR)-positive breast cancer represents 70 percent of breast cancers. Although primary treatment cures the vast majority of these patients, up to 25 percent relapse. There is a need to improve our understanding of the biology of these tumors to develop better treatment strategies. Dr. Prat and his team are addressing this need by analyzing tumor and blood samples from patients with HR-positive breast cancer to identify biomarkers of response so that patients can be matched with the most appropriate therapy for their disease.
Full Research Summary
Research area: Identifying strategies to tailor treatment for improved outcomes in hormone responsive breast cancers.
Impact: Of all the breast cancers that are HR-positive, the class identified as luminal B tends to have a worse prognosis. Patients with Luminal B breast cancer are more likely to receive toxic chemotherapy along with endocrine (anti-estrogen) treatment. A new class of drugs called CDK4/6 inhibitors may benefit these patients and have fewer side effects than chemotherapy, but there are currently no biomarkers that can predict who is most likely to benefit. Dr. Prat is studying changes in genes from tumor and blood in patients before and after neoadjuvant (pre-surgical) to identify biomarkers that can determine which patients can forego chemotherapy and which are likely to be resistant to the CDK4/6 therapy.
Current investigation: Dr. Prat and his colleagues will conduct molecular analyses on tumor samples from patients enrolled in the SOLTI-1402 CORALLEEN, a randomized phase II neoadjuvant clinical trial comparing the efficacy of endocrine therapy plus the CDK4/6 inhibitor, ribociclib, versus multi-agent chemotherapy. Their goals are to identify markers that can 1) guide the decision to treat with CDK4/6 inhibitors versus chemotherapy; 2) identify a group of patients with early-stage, HR-positive breast cancer who can be spared chemotherapy; 3) identify those patients not likely to respond to CDK 4/6 inhibitors or chemotherapy.
Aleix Prat received his medical degree from the University of Barcelona and became a medical oncologist at Hospital Vall d ́Hebron University Hospital in 2008. Aleix then completed a post-doctoral fellowship at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill under Prof. Charles M. Perou’s mentoring.
In 2012, Aleix returned to Barcelona and is currently the Head of the Medical Oncology Service at the Hospital Clínic of Barcelona and the Head of the Translational Genomics and Targeted Therapeutics in Solid Tumors Group at IDIBAPS. He is also a member of the executive boards of the Breast International Group (BIG) and SOLTI, a Spanish clinical trial cooperative group.