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Mafalda Oliveira, MD, PhD
Medical Oncology Department
Breast Cancer Group
Vall d'Hebron University Hospital
Goal: To identify new therapeutic options for a subgroup of patients with advanced hormone receptor (HR)-positive breast cancer.
Impact: While HR-positive breast cancers tend to have a good prognosis and respond well to anti-hormone therapies, a subset of HR-positive breast cancers, called HER2 enriched, tend to be more aggressive and resistant to therapies. Dr. Oliveira and her team are testing whether a hormone therapy used to treat prostate cancer can be successful in this group of breast cancer patients.
What’s next: Dr. Oliveira will conduct a small study in patients with metastatic HR-positive/HER2 enriched breast cancer to see if an oral prostate cancer drug called enzalutamide will stop the growth of breast cancer.
Current therapies for HR-positive breast cancer include endocrine (hormone) therapies, chemotherapy and a class of drugs called CDK4/6 inhibitors. HR-positive breast cancer, however, is a heterogeneous disease, and while most have a good prognosis, some are more aggressive and prone to spreading, a process called metastasis. The androgen receptor—a primary target in the treatment of prostate cancer —is present on many HR-positive breast cancers and may be driving the aggressive nature of those that are drug resistant. Dr. Oliveiri will test whether the AR-targeting drug, enzalutamide is a viable treatment option for breast cancer patients with aggressive disease.
Full Research Summary
Research area: Improve treatment options for a group of patients with aggressive hormone receptor (HR)-positive breast cancer.
Impact: A subtype of HR-positive/HER2-negative breast cancer, called HER2-enriched (HER2-E) occurs in about one in five women with HR-positive/HER2-negative advanced disease. Clinically, these breast cancers have a poor survival rate and are resistant to both endocrine therapy and CDK4/6 inhibitors. In these tumors, the androgen receptor, rather than the estrogen receptor, may be driving disease progression and drug resistance. Dr. Oliveira will conduct a clinical trial in patients with HR+/HER2-E metastatic breast cancer to see if AR inhibiting drugs can improve treatment response in these patients.
Current Investigation: Dr. Oliveira and her team will use the PAM50 diagnostic assay to identify patients with metastatic breast cancer whose tumors are classified as HR-positive/HER2-negative and HER2 enriched. They will conduct a short clinical trial to see if the AR-targeting drug, enzalutamide, can stop tumor cell growth in these patients.
Mafalda Oliveira MD, PhD, is a medical oncologist at the Medical Department of the Vall d'Hebron University Hospital and Vall d’Hebron Institute of Oncology (VHIO) in Barcelona since 2011. She has completed a master’s in clinical research in June 2013 and a PhD in Medicine in July 2017, both at the Universidad Autònoma de Barcelona.
Dr. Oliveira’s research interest focuses in the study of the molecular alterations and evolution of metastatic breast cancer, in the clinical development of new drugs (especially by designing clinical trials with innovative biological hypotheses), and in the application of liquid biopsies as diagnostic, predictive, and prognostic tools in breast cancer. She is involved as Principal Investigator in multiple phase I, phase II, and phase III clinical trials in breast cancer, with drugs that target the PI3K/AKT/mTOR pathway, CDK4/6 inhibitors, oral SERDs, new epigenetic drugs, ADCs, and cancer immunotherapy drugs.
She is also a member of the Executive Board and the Scientific Committee of SOLTI-Breast Cancer Research Group (an academic cooperative research group based in Spain), and a member of ASCO, ESMO, SEOM, and AACR.
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