Dr Charlotte Fribbens: Bringing circulating tumour DNA analysis to the clinic

Dr Fribbens was the first Le Cure fellow and was funded from March 2015 to September 2017 working in the laboratory of Professor Nick Turner. She worked on a number of projects, most successfully a trial (recently published as a lead editorial) demonstrating for the first time that results from liquid biopsies can provide the information to choose the best treatment for patients. This is being recommended for all future relevant clinical trials and is likely to change practise. Dr Fribbens also worked on the ABC-Bio trial investigating if the next generation of molecular diagnostics can offer more treatment options for patients with metastatic disease.

Dr Mariana Leal: POETIC-2

Since August 2016 Mariana has spent two years dedicated to POETIC-2 under the leadership of Professor Mitch Dowsett. For a certain group of patients hormonal treatment is only given after surgery. POETIC-1 showed that by introducing hormonal treatment in the short time before surgery we can see whether the tumours in individual patients respond well or not to the hormonal treatment. POETIC-2 is looking into why some patients do not respond and how we can improve treatment for this group of patients.

Dr Monee Shamsher & Dr Claire Swift: Can ctDNA help us identify who does need post-operative chemotherapy?

Dr Shamsher and Dr Swift are part funded by Le Cure for three years until September 2019, working with Professor Nick Turner. Current practice is to treat breast cancer with surgery followed by chemotherapy “just in case” any cancer remains behind after surgery. Using around 500 patient samples collected from a Spanish trial in 2003, Dr Shamsher and Dr Swift will aim to identify ctDNA in samples taken after surgery but before chemotherapy, to investigate if there are differences in the samples for women whose breast cancer returned and in those in whom it did not. They will be finding out if the presence of ctDNA after surgery means it is more likely that the patient will relapse and therefore chemotherapy is necessary. Conversely, if no trace of ctDNA is identified after surgery these patients could potentially avoid chemotherapy and the toxicities involved. If successful this trial will change clinical practice.

Thank you so much for your continued support, together we will find more effective personalised treatments for patients with breast cancer sooner.