Presentation on several new therapies for HER2-positive metastatic breast cancer including kinase inhibitors, antibody drug conjugates, and immunotherapies, as well as patient-friendly resources for exploring clinical trials.
View the presentation or view on SlideShare.
Presentation on several new clinical trials for triple negative metastatic breast cancer including antibody drug conjugates, and immunotherapy combinations, as well as patient-friendly resources for exploring clinical trials.
View the presentation or view on SlideShare.
Ending Metastatic Breast Cancer for Everyone (EMBRACE) is a research study conducted at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. This study began recruiting patients in 2009, with the aim of learning more about the biology of advanced breast cancer, as well as the
treatment experiences of patients living with it.
Each patient's progress is tracked by a study coordinator, and the information collected is used to help doctors understand more about the long-term journey of the metastatic breast cancer patients in this group. Investigators hope the study will bring
them closer to finding a cure for this disease.
The study also sponsors a metastatic breast cancer forum every year, as well as webcasts of topics relevant to patients with metastatic disease.
For more information on EMBRACE, please email
Research Advances in Metastatic Breast Cancer
Research is particularly vital when it comes to cancer that has spread beyond the breast (metastatic). One hallmark of the
Susan F. Smith Center for Women's Cancers is the integration of research and patient care, and the equal investment in both. At a basic level, scientists seek to understand the basic
biology of how and why breast cancer can spread, and at a clinical level, clinician/scientists test potential therapies in patients. More than 30 clinical trials are now underway for women with metastatic breast cancer.
Research conducted through the
Specialized Program of Research Excellence (SPORE) led by
Eric Winer, MD, encompasses several metastatic breast cancer projects. This prestigious five-year grant funded by the National Cancer Institute includes projects aimed at identifying drug "targets" on breast
Here are some examples of our current metastatic breast cancer research advances.
- Sara Tolaney MD, MPH, Erica Mayer, MD, Ian Krop, MD, PhD, and Eric Winer, MD,
and their colleagues have launched a series of clinical trials of drugs designed to stimulate the immune system to attack metastatic breast cancer. Trials of immunotherapy approaches are currently underway for all three major breast cancer subtypes
(ER-positive, HER2-positive, and triple-negative).
- ER-positive breast cancer is typically treated with a combination of hormonal therapy with a targeted treatment, such as a CDK4/6 inhibitor (e.g. Ibrance, Kisquali, or Verzenio). Now, Sara Tolaney, MD, MPH,
and Erica Mayer, MD, MPH, are leading clinical trials to test new ways to overcome resistance to CDK4/6 inhibitors, including combinations with immunotherapy or other targeted medications.
- A phase 2 clinical trial led by Rachel Freedman, MD, MPH, and Nancy Lin, MD, found that the combination of two oral medications – neratinib (Nerlynx) and capecitabine
(Xeloda) can be effective in patients with HER2-positive breast cancer that has spread to the brain. This is the first systemic treatment to gain recognition by the National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) guidelines for treatment of patients
with brain metastases. Multiple trials are currently underway to test additional treatments approaches for cancer that has spread to the brain.
- Hormonal therapy, which deprives ER-positive breast cancers of estrogen, is part of after-surgery therapy for early ER-positive breast cancer, and is often successful at preventing return of the disease. However, ER-positive breast cancer can recur
many years later, often at a site far from the original tumor. Researchers led by
Myles Brown, MD, have discovered that breast tumor cells can carry an abnormal "receptor" for estrogen, potentially allowing them to grow even when estrogen is absent. Researchers hope to use this finding
to guide the development of new drug agents.
- Brown and his colleague
Rinath Jeselsohn, MD, are studying a particularly promising class of drugs for metastatic, ER-positive breast cancers. Known as selective estrogen receptor degraders (or SERDs), they clamp onto
the estrogen receptor and cause it to crumble, so the tumor cells no longer respond to estrogen.
- Other research is focusing on the molecular makeup of breast tumors — the presence of genetically distinct cells within a single tumor. Tumors with the most "heterogeneity" — the greatest diversity of cell types within them — are often more likely
to resist treatment and to metastasize. Researchers led by
Kornelia Polyak, MD, PhD, have discovered that the fastest-proliferating cells within a tumor aren't necessarily the main drivers of tumor growth, suggesting that efforts to develop new drugs should
focus on targeting the actual driver cells.
- Up to 50 percent of HER2-positive breast cancers spread to the brain, but scientists have known little about how the process occurs. Recently a team of researchers including
Nikhil Wagle, MD, Eric Winer, MD, Ian Krop, MD, PhD,
Jean Zhao, PhD, Nancy Lin, MD, and Shom Goel, MD, PhD, found that approximately 12 percent of such tumors contain mutations that may explain why they don't respond well to the target drug trastuzumab, also
known as Herceptin. Researchers in Zhao's lab have implanted patients' metastatic tissue into animal research models, making it possible to test various drugs to see which may be most effective against the disease.