Fighting breast cancer: new EU-funded biomarker project kicks off

Fighting breast cancer: new EU-funded biomarker project kicks off

Date: 2012-02-21

A new EU-funded biomarker project that aims to get breast cancer therapy more tailored to individual patients has just got under way. By ensuring that breast cancer therapy is specifically designed with an individual patient in mind, medical practitioners can bypass ineffective treatments - saving both valuable time and energy.

RESPONSIFY ('Genome-based biomarkers leading to validated molecular diagnostic tests for response prediction in breast cancer') received almost EUR 6 million under the 'Health' Theme of the EU's Seventh Framework Programme (FP7), and brings together researchers from Belgium, France, Germany, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom.

The project partners will work on developing new biomarker tests that can indicate whether and how a treatment affects an individual patient, and make response prediction much easier.

The main focus of the project will be on ascertaining whether certain types of treatment should be administered before or after surgery. Doctors often need to determine which therapy is best for a patient about to undergo surgical tumour removal; in most breast cancer cases it is only after the removal and examination of the tumour that doctors choose a therapy. However, just because this is the dominant form of treatment does not mean it is best for everyone. Treatment that starts prior to surgery, called 'neoadjuvant therapy', involves significantly minimising the tumour preoperatively. Only then do doctors remove the remaining tumour tissue.

Professor Carsten Denkert, from the coordinating institution Charité - Universitätsmedizin Berlin, comments: 'The advantage of neoadjuvant therapy is that the effective response of the therapy on the tumour is immediately visible. This is why we are better able to judge which biomarkers are appropriate for directing the therapy.'

The team will use different genome-based strategies to identify and characterise new biomarkers as well as validate biomarkers from previous projects. Genome-based strategies include new molecular techniques such as genome-wide next-generation sequencing, epigenetics, gene and exon expression analysis, as well as kinome arrays, in situ proteomics and quantitative polymerase chain reaction (qPCR) using formalin-fixed paraffin-embedded (FFPE) tissue.

By integrating information on response prediction from different breast cancer types and methodologies into biomarker tests for targeted therapies in the clinical routine setting, researchers can work towards meeting the challenges surrounding individualisation of cancer therapy based on standardised biomarker assays. To bring these tests to market, they will then be developed for commercialisation by the industry and small and medium-size enterprise (SME) partners in the consortium.

The results from the project will be presented on a web-based data integration and processing system. Standardising the integration of clinical trial data and biomarker results into one system allows easy access for further clinical biomarker driven trials.

The World Health Organization (WHO) reports that breast cancer is the most common cancer among women around the world, both in the developed and the developing world.

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Category: Projects
Data Source Provider: Charité - Universitätsmedizin Berlin
Document Reference: Based on information from Charité - Universitätsmedizin Berlin.
Subject Index: Coordination, Cooperation; Life Sciences; Medicine, Health; Scientific Research; Social Aspects