Laura Biganzoli, MD
Director, Breast Center
Acting Director, Medical Oncology
Hospital of Prato
Identifying biomarkers to improve the clinical management of elderly breast cancer patients.
At diagnosis, more than 40 percent of breast cancer patients are over 65 and approximately 20 percent are over the age of 75. Aging is associated with a progressive decline in the function of multiple organ systems—this may influence a patient’s response to anti-cancer drugs and reduce the tolerance of normal tissues to these treatments. The clinical management of older cancer patients is complicated by age related factors as well as various patient comorbidities. An area of intense investigation is the development of accurate biomarkers that have the potential to define not only a patient’s tolerance and benefit from therapy, but also to reflect the age-accelerating effects of treatment that may lead to premature health decline and frailty. Preliminary data suggests that metabolites (the molecules that occur as a result of cellular activity) and other proteins associated with cellular aging might be useful to define the biological age of patients—this information could provide valuable clues regarding how patients will respond to treatments. Dr. Biganzoli has a long-standing interest in improving the clinical management of older breast cancer patients. She will apply her substantial expertise in this field to examine the metabolite and protein profiles in this patient population. By delineating a “fingerprint” of aging, Dr. Biganzoli hopes to inform clinical decision-making and ultimately to refine and personalize treatment for these breast cancer patients.
Dr. Biganzoli and her team will examine the serum samples from geriatric patients enrolled in three clinical trials in order to establish metabolomic (a catalogue of metabolites) and cellular senescence-associated protein profiles (SASP, proteins associated with cell aging). These profiles will then be assessed in larger clinical trials to determine their utility as a standardized tool for comprehensive geriatric assessment—a tool that may ultimately help to improve treatment and outcomes for older breast cancer patients.
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.
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