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Christos Sotiriou, MD, PhD
Head of the Translational Breast Cancer Laboratory
Free University of Brussels
Institut Jules Bordet
Goal: To personalize treatment for early-stage, HER2-positive breast cancer.
Impact: Dr. Sotiriou is using cutting-edge technologies to identify patients who will respond best to a dual HER2-targeted treatment and those who will fare well when treated with just one HER2-targeted drug. His work could spare many women from unnecessary, expensive, and aggressive treatment.
What’s next: He and his colleagues will continue their work to develop a tool that can be used to identify patients with early-stage HER2-positive breast cancer who will benefit from treatment with the targeted drug trastuzumab alone and would not require additional treatment.
There are now very effective targeted treatments available for patients with HER2-positive breast cancer, a subtype of the disease that once had a poor prognosis. Some patients will gain more benefit from a dual HER2-targeted approach. However, some may end up undergoing costly, aggressive treatments that do not help. Dr. Sotiriou is conducting studies to identify markers that can identify HER2-positive patients who will do well with one targeted therapy alone, thereby sparing them unnecessary treatment and financial burden.
Full Research Summary
Research area: Delineating the heterogeneity of HER2-positive breast cancer cells and assessing how tumor heterogeneity impacts treatment response and clinical outcome.
Impact: Some of the greatest treatment breakthroughs in breast cancer have been in HER2-positive breast cancer. Despite the success of HER2-targeted therapies, not all patients benefit equally. One reason for the variation in treatment response has to do with the diversity of cell types in and around the tumor. Dr. Sotiriou’s research is aimed at deciphering the tumor heterogeneity of HER2-positive breast cancer cells to understand how tumor heterogeneity impacts treatment response and ultimately patient outcome. These studies will inform better risk assessment and decision making in the treatment of patients with HER2-positive breast cancer.
Current investigation: In the current study, Dr. Sotiriou is using sophisticated technologies to interrogate HER2-positive tumors both within the tumor microenvironment, as well as at the single tumor cell level. The goal is to develop an innovative tool to more precisely assess patient risk for personalized treatment.
What he’s learned so far: Dr. Sotiriou and his team have made progress integrating clinico-pathological and RNA sequencing data to develop a tool for treatment optimization strategies in HER2-positive breast cancer.
What’s next: He and his colleagues will continue their ongoing work in understanding how the diverse cellular makeup of HER2-positive tumors impacts response to treatment in order to improve outcomes for patients.
Dr. Christos Sotiriou earned a medical degree from the Université Libre de Bruxelles, Belgium, in 1993. He did his internal medicine/oncology residency at the Institut Jules Bordet and earned his specialty in this field in July 1999. From October 1999 through September 2001, he worked as basic research fellow, at the Division of Clinical Sciences, National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD, USA. After having completed a PhD Thesis at the Université Libre de Bruxelles in September 2004, he became "Chercheur Qualifié" (Research Faculty Member – tenured position) at the National Foundation for Scientific Research (FNRS, Belgium) in 2005. In March 2010, he took over the lead of the Breast Cancer Translational Research Laboratory J-C Heuson. In October 2013, he was appointed "Maître de Recherche" (Senior Research Associate – tenured position) by the National Foundation for Scientific Research (FNRS, Belgium), and also one of the "Chefs de Clinique" (Heads of clinic) at the Medical Oncology Clinic of the Institut Jules Bordet. Dr. Sotiriou is a full member of ASCO, AACR, and ESMO. He is Elected Member of the Scientific Council of the International Agency for Research on Cancer (World Health Organisation 2012 – 2016) and Elected Fellow of the European Academy of Cancer Sciences (since 2010), which is hosted under the auspices of European CanCer Organization (ECCO). He is also Advisory Council Member of the Susan G. Komen for the Cure (since June 2010). Dr. Sotiriou is reviewer for several high impact peer-reviewed journals. He has been elected associated editor of the Annals of Oncology Journal (Breast tumors) (January 2014-December 2015). Internationally renowned researcher, author and co-author of over 160 peer-reviewed articles, Dr. Sotiriou is focusing his research on genomics in breast cancer.