The CANDRIAM’s Institute for Sustainable Development provides aid to leading cancer research and prevention institutes in Europe and beyond. The international research network Breast International Group (BIG) is one of its main partners. It was also our partner for our company-wide Atlas Go sport challenge earlier this year.
To achieve a much deeper understanding of metastatic breast cancer, BIG launched AURORA, a unique international academic programme aiming to decode the genetic changes (aberrations) that drive the evolution of breast cancer. AURORA aims to improve our understanding of metastatic breast cancer and to unlock the reasons why some breast cancers do not respond to treatment.
Our Institute’s donations were dedicated to the AURORA programme. Let’s take a closer look at the outcome of our financial support.
Progress to Date
Since 2014, AURORA has included more than 1000 patients with metastatic breast cancer from 66 hospitals in 12 European countries. So far, this is the largest database in the world with both primary and metastatic tumor samples linked with high quality clinical data and blood samples collected at multiple time points. The patients still included in the research programme are undergoing hospital check-ups for follow-up and cancer progression, during which clinical data and biological samples are collected.
The Candriam donations up to December 2020 supported the costs associated with the participation of 10 patients for one year in AURORA.
The first manuscript on the integrated analysis of the first 381 patients included in the program was submitted and has been accepted for publication by Cancer Discovery, and several working groups have been created to exploit the clinical and molecular data generated so far.
The aims of the manuscript were to identify molecular alterations enriched in the early phases of metastatic disease; describe variations in gene expression between the primary samples and their paired metastases; correlate genomic and transcriptomic markers with outcome; and evaluate the contribution of molecular profiling to the management of patients with MBC.
Concretely and among other findings, AURORA allowed researchers to detect specific molecular alterations in some patients, and use matched therapy. This demonstrates the clinical relevance of a program such as AURORA (and hence of its financial partners) and that integrating multi-omics analyses into clinical practice could impact treatment strategies for metastatic breast cancer.
The recruitment of new patients to AURORA will continue. A series of working groups have been created to analyse the AURORA clinical and molecular data and to generate biologically oriented hypotheses for future clinical trials. The working groups are expected to produce research projects and publications within a timeframe of two years from the transfer of AURORA data.
Finally, a platform to consolidate and share information about the available data and samples for future research has been developed. The aim is to share this with the wider scientific community and facilitate high-impact translational research and better designed clinical trials for patients in the future.