Vall d’Hebron University Hospital
Medical Oncology Department
Breast Cancer Group
Identifying new therapeutic options for a subgroup of advanced hormone receptor (HR)-positive breast cancer patients.
While hormone receptor (HR)-positive breast cancers tend to have a good prognosis and respond well to therapy, a subset of HR-positive breast cancers tend to be more aggressive. In this subtype, the HER2 gene is activated but HER2 protein (which is the target of HER2-targeted therapies) is not detected. These are therefore distinguished from HER2-postive breast cancer with the classification of HER2-enriched (HER2-E) and comprise about one in five patients 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. The androgen receptor—a primary target in the treatment of prostate cancer—is present on many HR-positive breast cancers, and HER2-E tumors appear to exhibit an addiction to AR. Dr. Oliveira and her team are conducting a clinical trial in patients with HR-positive/HER2-E metastatic breast cancer to see if AR-inhibiting drugs can improve treatment response in these patients.
The team uses the PAM50 diagnostic assay to identify patients with metastatic breast cancer whose tumors are classified as HR-positive/ HER2-E. The trial is testing if the AR-targeting drug, enzalutamide, can stop tumor cell growth in these patients after two weeks, and then patients will continue on therapy for as long as it is successful. As of the last report, 34 patients have been enrolled and the trial includes patients with HER2 enriched breast cancer, whose treatment response will be compared to those with Luminal A/B-type breast cancer.
With recruitment now completed, data analysis is ongoing. The results of the study will be presented at the San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium in SABCS 2023, and a manuscript is in preparation.
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 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 focuses on the study of the molecular alterations and evolution of metastatic breast cancer, the clinical development of new drugs (especially by designing clinical trials with innovative biological hypotheses), and 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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