Finding the cures and treatment for metastatic breast cancer is URGENT. 

In February 2020, Komen brought together scientific experts from various specialties in the breast cancer field to discuss the most vexing unanswered questions in breast cancer research.

These questions, when answered, will advance the breast cancer field and help those diagnosed with breast cancer live longer better lives.

Conquering this Disease

Essential gaps in our knowledge about MBC must be addressed to impact patient care and treatment to ensure better patient outcomes.  Important questions about MBC that remain unanswered include:

  • How do we monitor and defeat the evolution of drug resistance?
  • What is the impact of the immune system on breast cancer development and treatment?
  • How does the tumor microenvironment influence metastases?
  • How will we use liquid biopsy or other technologies for early detection of late recurrence?

Scope of Research

Outstanding research into the understanding, detection, and treatment of metastatic (Stage IV) breast cancer is needed to address these critical questions about MBC.  Research studies supported through the MBC Collaborative Research Fund could focus on:

Development of novel treatment strategies for existing metastatic disease.

This could include studies that:

  • address drug resistance
  • investigate approaches to improve the delivery of existing therapies to metastatic disease
  • identify new strategies for combining existing and novel therapies to improve response or overcome resistance
  • focus on the immune system and potential vaccine strategies
  • leverage liquid biopsy approaches to improve the treatment of metastatic breast cancer, for example by
    • using liquid biopsies to track the response of metastatic breast cancer to therapy, including host immune response to immunotherapy approaches, genomic or epigenomic responses, or resistance mechanisms
    • using liquid biopsies to identify and validate circulating biomarkers that will predict response to therapy and optimize therapeutic interventions for metastatic breast cancer

Strategies to prevent or arrest metastasis and late recurrence.

This could include studies investigating:

  • mechanisms of metastatic growth and progression
  • mechanisms of tumor dormancy that lead to late recurrence
  • the impact of the tumor microenvironment on growth and metastatic potential of breast cancer cells
  • early molecular changes in tumor cells that impact motility, survival, and establishment at distant sites and likely contribute to recurrence

It could also include studies to identify and validate molecular targets and test novel ways to disrupt the molecular pathways involved in metastasis, tumor dormancy, and late recurrence.

Innovative approaches to detect new or recurrent metastatic breast cancer as early as possible, before standard symptoms may be detectable.

This could include studies that:

  • develop and test liquid biopsy or other novel technologies and methods for early detection of metastatic breast cancer
  • identify and validate diagnostic or prognostic biomarkers, including circulating biomarkers, for the earliest possible detection of metastatic breast cancer
  • use liquid biopsy or other techniques and analyses to predict metastatic breast cancer recurrence, including methods to identify tumor dormancy or treatment-resistant cancer cells

Investigating the biological, behavioral, social, and systems contributors to a higher burden of late-stage (metastatic) breast cancer in population groups affected by breast cancer disparities.

This may include the identification, validation, and testing of biological and/or socioeconomic factors that contribute to disparities in metastatic breast cancer outcomes. This may also include the identification of health services and public health interventions that address the causes of disparities in care and outcomes across population groups affected by metastatic breast cancer.

Research cures cancer. Nothing else does.

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Download the Komen MBC Collaborative Research Initiative Case Statement.