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Dennis C. Sgroi, MD
Co-Director of Breast Pathology
Massachusetts General Hospital
Professor of Pathology, Harvard Medical School
Goal: To discover new strategies for treating estrogen receptor (ER)-positive breast cancer.
Impact: Dr. Sgroi aims to identify biomarkers that would identify patients with ER-positive disease who are at risk of recurrence. His findings could lead to novel therapeutic strategies for preventing recurrence in high-risk patients and treating those who have experienced a late recurrence of their disease.
What’s next: He and his colleagues will continue to study a biomarker that identifies ER-positive patients who have a high risk for late recurrence. The next year will focus on women at high risk of recurrence, but who are not likely to benefit from extended hormone therapy, in order to identify alternative strategies to reduce their risk.
Even though many patients with ER-positive breast cancer are successfully treated, there is a chance their cancer will return. Extended hormone therapy can reduce the risk of recurrence and death in some women with this type of breast cancer, but oncologists have little to guide them in determining which patients require longer treatment. Dr. Sgroi has identified a biomarker that could identify those who should undergo extended hormone therapy and may also predict drug responses.
Full Research Summary
Research Area: Developing strategies to personalize treatment approaches to reduce the risk of recurrence for patients with ER-positive breast cancer.
Impact: For patients diagnosed with early-stage, estrogen receptor (ER)-positive breast cancer, five years of hormone therapy significantly reduces the risk of future breast cancer recurrence. For some patients, extending that therapy another five years (a total of 10 year) can further reduce their risk of late recurrence – beyond 10 years. Dr. Sgroi has developed a predictive test to both identify patients with a risk of late recurrence who would benefit from extended hormone therapy and those high-risk patients who are not likely to respond to hormone therapy and would need other treatment options.
Current research: Dr. Sgroi is a employing a novel proteomic (protein)-based approach to identify new drug targets in tumor samples from patients with ER-positive breast cancer who have a high risk of recurrence but are not likely to benefit from extended hormone therapy.
What they’ve learned so far: Dr. Sgroi develop a breast cancer index that can predict the risk of recurrence in patients with ER-positive breast cancer.
What’s next: In the coming year, he will focus on identifying alternative treatment strategies for patients at high-risk of late recurrence, but who will not benefit from extended hormone therapy.
Dr. Dennis C. Sgroi is a Professor of Pathology, Harvard Medical School, and Co-Director of Breast Pathology and Member of the Center for Cancer Research at Massachusetts General Hospital. He maintains an active clinical practice on the breast pathology consultation service and he is actively engaged in translational research. The overarching goals of research in the Sgroi laboratory are to develop better ways to identify patients who are at risk for the development of breast cancer and to identify those breast cancer patients who are likely to benefit from targeted drug therapies. His laboratory is taking several different approaches to achieving these goals. First, they are deciphering specific molecular events that occur during the earliest stages of tumor development and using this knowledge to develop biomarkers that will predict for increased risk of progression to cancer. Second, using advance molecular technologies, they are searching for novel breast cancer biomarkers to identify patients with hormone-receptor-positive breast cancer who are most likely to benefit from extended hormonal therapy and from novel targeted therapeutics. He is currently on the scientific advisory board for the Ontario Institute for Cancer Research, and has served on the scientific advisory board the Barnett Institute at Northeastern University.