Titles and Affiliations

Medical Oncologist
Massachusetts General Hospital
Boston, Massachusetts
Conquer Cancer, the ASCO Foundation

Research area

Identifying metastatic breast cancer patients that may benefit from PARP inhibitor treatment.

Impact

Metastatic (or stage IV) breast cancer (MBC), accounts for most breast cancer deaths, and there is an urgent need to develop more effective treatment strategies. Two PARP inhibitors, Olaparib (LYNPARZA®) and talazoparib (TALZENNA®), are currently being used to treat MBC in patients with inherited BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutations. A critical question is whether PARP inhibitors may also be effective in MBC that harbor somatic (non-inherited) BRCA mutations, as is the case for ovarian cancer. Liquid biopsies, which can analyze circulating cell-free DNA (cfDNA) in the blood can detect tumor DNA that has sloughed off tumors and entered the bloodstream. As part of her Conquer Cancer study, supported by BCRF, Dr. Vidula and her team will test the ability of liquid biopsies to detect tumor BRCA mutations in patients with MBC and determine how well these patients respond to PARP inhibitor treatment.

Progress Thus Far

In preliminary studies, Dr. Vidula and her team analyzed liquid biopsies from patients with MBC for tumor BRCA mutations. They found BRCA mutations in 13.5 percent of tumor samples, largely in the absence of inherited BRCA mutations. Based on these findings, she and her team activated a clinical trial at the Massachusetts General Hospital. 

What’s next

In the upcoming year, Dr. Vidula will continue to screen and enroll patients at Massachusetts General Hospital and six additional sites. They will ultimately enroll 30 patients.

Biography

Neelima Vidula, MD is a breast medical oncologist at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH). She completed medical school and residency in internal medicine at Northwestern University and a clinical and research fellowship in hematology and medical oncology at the University of California, San Francisco.

Dr. Vidula is the principal investigator of many early phase clinical trials studying novel agents for patients with breast cancer. Among these trials, she is the national co‐principal investigator of a multi‐center study using immunotherapy and chemotherapy for chest wall disease, through the Translational Breast Cancer Research Consortium. Dr. Vidula also conducts clinical research evaluating the impact of biomarkers on therapy response and patient outcomes as well as research in precision medicine using cell‐free DNA and tumor genotyping. She strives to provide outstanding patient care and incorporate the latest data and newest therapies in treatment plans for patients.

BCRF Investigator Since

2020

Donor Recognition

The Housewares Charity Foundation Award

Areas of Focus