Adjusting breast cancer therapy to individual patients to avoid ineffective treatment: Charité Universitätsmedizin Berlin and eleven partner institutions from six countries have set this as their goal. They have launched the EU research project RESPONSIFY.
Prof. Carsten Denkert, project director at the Charité Institute of Pathology, has explained that the key to success will be the development of new biomarker tests. Biomarker tests indicate whether and how a treatment affects the individual patient. The tests should make response prediction easier, even before surgical tumor removal, in order to determine which therapy is most promising for a patient.
By beginning treatment prior to surgery (neoadjuvant therapy), the tumor should be significantly minimized preoperatively. Only then do doctors remove the remaining tumor tissue. Usually the procedure, in most breast cancer cases, is the other way around: Only after the removal and examination of the tumor do doctors choose a therapy. “The advantage of neoadjuvant therapy is that the effective response of the therapy on the tumor is immediately visible,” explains Denkert, “This is why we are better able to judge which biomarkers are appropriate for directing the therapy.”
As in many other industrial nations, breast cancer in Germany is the most common form of cancer in women. More than 55,000 women in this country are diagnosed with breast cancer every year.
Research within the RESPONSIFY project is connected very closely to clinical studies by the German Breast Group (GBG), so that results can be applied in clinical practice more quickly. Under the scientific direction of Assistant Professor Dr. Sibylle Loibl (GBG), other institutions including the Stockholm Karolinska Institutet, the French Institut Gustave Roussy and University College London, as well as numerous small- and medium-sized enterprises (SME) from various European countries are working together with Charité on this endeavour. The EU commission is financing the three-year project in the course of the 7th Framework Programme with approximately 6 million euro under the title “RESPONSIFY – Genome-based biomarkers leading to validated molecular diagnostic tests for response prediction in breast cancer” (Grant Agreement Number HEALTH- F5-2012-278659).
Prof. Carsten Denkert
Institut für Pathologie
Charité Campus Mitte
t: +49 30 450 536 047