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Monica Fornier, MD
Associate Member at the Breast Medicine Service
Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center
Associate Professor, Weill Cornell Medical College
New York, New York
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 recurring. By identifying women at high risk of recurrence, treatment can be tailored to each 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 receive unnecessary chemotherapy. Drs. Fornier and Biganzoli are investigating how metabolites found in the blood of breast cancer patients could allow doctors to 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. Fornier and Biganzoli are identifying metabolites (the molecules that occur as a result of cell activity) which would allow doctors to better identify those who require aggressive treatments, such as chemotherapy, and those who can avoid them. The results of their studies will potentially lead to refinements in risk assessment and the personalization of treatment.
Current investigation: The team is investigating whether metabolomic analysis of blood can 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: The team has conducted a retrospective proof-of-concept study and demonstrated that metabolomic analysis can split existing Oncotype-defined recurrence risk groups and identify patients at the highest risk of relapse and recurrence. In the last year, they have expanded their study and have demonstrated that this analysis can distinguish between patients with early breast cancer and those with metastatic breast cancer. Moreover, patients with early breast cancer who have metabolites resembling the metastatic profile are more likely to relapse.
What’s next: Drs. Fornier and Biganzoli will continue to validate their findings in a larger cohort of patients and, refine the existing tests and assessments. Ultimately, these studies will help to differentiate between patients who are at greatest risk of cancer recurrence and require more aggressive treatment and those who can avoid unnecessary chemotherapy, allowing doctors to tailor their adjuvant treatment accordingly.
Dr. Monica Fornier is an Associate Member at the Breast Medicine Service of Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center and Assistant Professor at Weil Cornell Medical College. She specializes in the treatment of breast cancer. She is also an Associate Professor at the Weill Medical College of Cornell University, New York Presbyterian Hospital
Dr. Fornier graduated summa cum laude at the University of Milan (Italy); she pursued her Oncology fellowship at the National Cancer Institute of Milan, under the mentorship of Dr. Gianni Bonadonna, and a second fellowship at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York, under the mentorship of Dr. Larry Norton. She is currently a member of the Faculty at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, where she conducts clinical research in breast cancer. Dr. Fornier has been involved in the development and conduction of numerous clinical trials assessing novel drugs and drug scheduling strategies for the treatment of breast cancer, both in the adjuvant and metastatic setting.
Dr Fornier is an active member of various national and international scientific groups, including the American Society of Clinical Oncology and the European Society of Medical Oncology. Dr Fornier has numerous publications to her name and has presented data at international meetings.