Research team describes new methods to identify personalized drug treatments for breast cancer


Newswise — SALT LAKE CITY — For years, researchers of University of Utah Huntsman Cancer Institute (U of U) have developed a process for developing breast cancer models using tumors donated by breast cancer patients, which they then implant into mice to study tumor behavior .

Now the research team is reporting a new, more efficient way to grow these tumors. Additionally, they describe a process for testing potential drugs to help prioritize clinical therapy choices based on unique tumor characteristics.

The studypublished this week in the journal nature cancer, creates a way for researchers to narrow down the number of drugs that might be effective in each tumor based on its unique characteristics and behavior in laboratory models of cancer. Using this resource, researchers have found experimental and Food and Drug Administration-approved drugs with high efficacy compared to models. They extended this work to personalize therapy for a patient with metastatic breast cancer, resulting in a complete response for the patient and a progression-free survival period more than three times longer than her previous therapies.

“We were able to use the data to prioritize treatment options for a patient,” says Alana Welm, PhDsenior co-author, breast cancer researcher at the Huntsman Cancer Institute and professor of oncological sciences at the University of the University. “Although this therapy was unfortunately not curative, it did lead to regression of the patient’s tumor and a longer survival period.”

Welm says this unique library of tumor models is key to advancing research into aggressive breast cancers. “It is also, to our knowledge, the first time that such models have been used to influence the therapeutic choice of a patient with breast cancer in the context of a clinical trial.”

The research team included a diverse group of clinicians, laboratory researchers, and technicians from the University of Utah’s Huntsman Cancer Institute, Baylor College of Medicine, Jackson Labs, University of Connecticut, and the University of Pittsburgh. The team worked together to prioritize the advancement of research on specimens most aligned with the current challenges seen in the clinic.

A new clinical trial called FORECAST (NCT04450706) builds on the findings of this study. Directed by Saundra Buys, MDchief of the division of oncology at the Huntsman Cancer Institute, the trial tests patient-derived tumor models to inform treatment choice in patients with metastatic breast cancer.

With a second trial in development, Welm says, “We will also use the models to predict recurrence for a subset of patients with newly diagnosed breast cancer, and then attempt to personalize treatment for the metastatic stage. of the disease when recurrence occurs.

The study was supported by the National Institutes of Health/National Cancer Institute, including P30 CA042014 and the Huntsman Cancer Foundation. The authors would like to acknowledge the National Cancer Institute’s Moonshot PDX Network Program, Huntsman Cancer Institute Shared Resources, and U of U Flow Cytometry and Cell Imaging Cores.


About the University of Utah Huntsman Cancer Institute

Huntsman Cancer Institute (HCI) at the University of Utah is Utah’s official cancer center and the only National Cancer Institute-designated comprehensive cancer center in the Mountain West region. The campus includes a state-of-the-art cancer hospital and two buildings dedicated to cancer research. HCI provides patient care, cancer screening and education at community clinics and affiliated hospitals in Mountain West. HCI is consistently recognized as one of the nation’s top cancer hospitals by US News and World Report. The first in the region proton therapy center opened in 2021 and a major expansion of the hospital is underway. HCI is committed to creating a diverse and inclusive environment for staff, students, patients and communities. Advancing cancer research discoveries and treatments to meet the needs of patients who live far from a major medical center is a unique goal. More genes for hereditary cancers have been discovered at HCI than at any other cancer center, including genes responsible for breast, ovarian, colon, head and neck, and melanoma cancers. HCI was founded by Jon M. and Karen Huntsman.


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