First large-scale trial of genetically personalised treatment for breast cancer to start soon

March 19, 2004

Hamburg, Germany: The first large-scale independent trial to study the role of molecular tumour signatures in breast cancer will get underway in the coming year, scientists announced today (Friday March 19) at the 4th European Breast Cancer Conference. TRANS-BIG, a translational research network involving about 40 partners from all over Europe and from Latin America, is in late-stage negotiation with the European Commission for funding as a Network of Excellence under the 6th Framework Research Programme.

Dr. Martine Piccart, Chair of the Breast International Group and head of the medical oncology department at the Institut Jules Bordet, Brussels, said: "The traditional approach to clinical research in cancer has been the comparison of treatments through randomized clinical trials, with the extrapolation of an average benefit in a patient population to each individual. This often means that many patients are over- treated, while only a few derive a considerable benefit."

Dr. Emiel Rutgers, from the Netherlands National Cancer Institute, Amsterdam, said: "The Amsterdam group developed a genetic signature that seems to be a very good instrument to predict whether the disease will come back. This new 'tool' will be validated through the MINDACT trial in breast cancer patients who do not have cancerous cells in the lymph nodes ('node-negative')."

"MINDACT will use microarrays, a technology that is used to identify the specific molecular make-up or 'fingerprint' of a tumour. If the trial outcome is as expected, it will mean that it will be possible to spare patients at low risk of relapse from over-treatment with chemotherapy", said Dr. Piccart. "This will result in reduced side-effects and will also save health services from unnecessary costs."

"Our trial will be the first to test this theory in practice on a large scale", said Dr. Rutgers. "We are very excited about this chance to ensure that each patient receives a treatment tailor-made to manage the particularities of her disease."

ECCO-the European CanCer Organisation

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