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Laura Biganzoli, MD, PhD
Breast Unit Coordinator
Hospital of Prato
Istituto Toscano, Italy
Goal: To discover new biomarkers to predict the risk of breast cancer recurrence.
Impact: Drs. Fornier and Biganzoli are studying the metabolomic profile found in blood samples from women with early-stage breast cancer to determine whether they can be used to predict the likelihood of the breast cancer recurrence. By identifying women at high risk of breast cancer recurrence, treatment can be tailored to level of risk for every patient.
What’s next: The team will expand their ongoing retrospective and clinical trials this year and continue to evaluate the metabolite profile of blood from patients with early-stage breast cancer.
Aggressive treatments aimed at reducing the risk of breast cancer recurrence such as chemotherapy can be difficult for patients to endure. Unfortunately, there are limited ways to help determine which patients benefit the most from chemotherapy, so some patients are over-treated. Drs. Biganzoli and Fornier are investigating how metabolites found in the blood of breast cancer patients could allow doctors to more precisely identify those who require aggressive treatments like chemotherapy and those who can avoid them.
Full Research Summary
Research area: Seeking biomarkers that would help identify women with early breast cancer who are more likely to have their cancer return after surgery.
Impact: Approximately 25 percent of patients with early stage breast cancer will be diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer. Recurrence is a serious clinical challenge, in part because doctors have limited tools that predict which patients are at the greatest risk of relapse—information that would help guide treatment. Drs. Biganzoli and Fornier’s study of metabolites (the molecules that occur as a result of cell activity) and how they vary in the presence of cancer could lead to refinements in risk assessment and help personalize treatment.
Current investigation: The team has launched a prospective study that aims to test whether metabolomic analysis of blood can further refine the risk prediction of the genomic assay OncotypeDX® in patients with early hormone receptor-positive, HER2-negative breast cancer.
What they’ve learned so far: A retrospective proof-of-concept study demonstrated that metabolomic analysis can split existing Oncotype-defined recurrence risk groups, which could identify patients at the highest risk of relapse and allow doctors to tailor their adjuvant treatment accordingly.
What’s next: Drs. Fornier and Biganzoli plan to open a second site of the trial and increase patient accrual.
Laura Biganzoli is the Director of the Breast Center at the Hospital of Prato, Istituto Toscano Tumori, Prato, Italy. She earned her medical degree at the University of Pavia, Italy, and completed fellowships at the National Cancer Institute of Milan and at the Jules Bordet Institute in Brussels. For five years she worked as a senior staff member at the Medical Oncology Clinic of the Jules Bordet Institute. She is board certified in medical oncology and internal medicine. Her current research focuses on breast cancer and geriatric oncology. Dr. Biganzoli was the Director of the European Organization for Research and Treatment of Cancer (EORTC) Investigational Drug Branch for Breast Cancer, dedicated to the conduction of early phase II studies in advanced breast cancer, for five years and sat on the Board of Directors of the Breast International Group (BIG) from 1999 to 2003. Dr. Biganzoli has been a member of the European Society of Breast Cancer Specialists (EUSOMA) Executive Committee since 2011 and European Society of Medical Oncology (ESMO) Faculty Member for the Elderly since 2012. She is part of the International Society of Geriatric Oncology (SIOG) Science & Educational Committee.