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Aleix Prat, MD, PhD

Associate Professor, University of Barcelona 
Head Medical Oncology Department, Hospital Clinic of Barcelona
Head Translational Genomics & Targeted Therapeutics in Solid Tumors Group
Institut d’Investigacions Biomèdiques August Pi i Sunyer (IDIBAPS)
Hospital Clinic of Barcelona
American Association for Cancer Research

Current Research

Goal: To identify biomarkers of response for personalized treatment approaches for endocrine resistant breast cancer

Impact: The majority of breast cancers required hormones for growth. These cancers are treatable with anti-estrogen (endocrine) 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 more than 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) treatment 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 study, 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.

What he’s learned so far: Dr. Prat has gained a better understanding of how tumors respond to CDK4/6 inhibitor plus endocrine therapy by performing bioinformatic and statistical analyses on tumor DNA and RNA from a cohort of patients with metastatic HR-positive, HER2-negative breast in the SOLTI-1402 CORALLEEN study.

What’s next: Dr. Prat will continue to dissect the biology of HR-positive breast cancer and identify and validate genomic biomarkers that could inform how a breast tumor will respond to therapy. 

Biography

Aleix Prat is the Head of the Medical Oncology Department of the Hospital Clínic Barcelona (Spain), Associate Professor at the University of Barcelona and Head of the Translational Genomics and Targeted Therapeutics in Solid Tumors Lab at IDIBAPS. 

As scientific coordinator of the Scientific Board of the Spanish Breast Cancer Cooperative Research Group (SOLTI) that performs clinical trials of excellence in oncology, he was named member of the Executive Board of The Breast International Group (BIG) in 2018, an international non- profit organization that includes more than 56 cooperative groups from around the world, more than 10,000 experts and it is linked to more than 3,000 hospitals. Since May 2019 he left the scientific coordination to assume the Presidency of the Governing Board Board of SOLTI.

Over his career he obtained a world-wide prestige as a research scientist in the field of breast cancer genomics and biomarker development. In 2008, he became a postdoctoral research associate (2008-2012) at the Lineberger
V01Comprehensive Cancer Center (University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, USA) in the Laboratory of Prof. Charles M. Perou, a world-renowned translational researcher in breast cancer. During this postdoctoral experience, he discovered and characterized a new molecular subtype of breast cancer, known as a Claudin-low (Prat et al. Breast Cancer Research 2010; Citations: 1,518). In addition, he participated in The Cancer Genome Atlas breast cancer project (Nature 2012; Citations: 4,661), which is the most important molecular characterization study that has ever been performed in breast cancer.

Since 2007, Dr. Prat has actively taken part in a total of 147 publications (42 as 1st author and 18 as Senior author. 33 (†corresponding author) with a total impact factor of 1.354 and Score-H of 48 with 14.568 citations and 120 communications in international congresses. 

BCRF Investigator Since

2019

Area(s) of Focus