THE BIOLOGY OF TNBC

Triple-Negative Breast Cancer (TNBC), an aggressive breast cancer subtype, is currently defined by what it lacks-namely three receptors that serve as vital therapeutic targets for patients with other subtypes of breast cancer. In order to improve outcomes for TNBC patients, it is necessary to redefine this disease in terms of what it has, and what can be selectively targeted to eliminate cancerous cells, while sparing healthy ones. ICART researchers are committed to unraveling the complex biology of TNBC at the molecular and cellular levels.

PREDICTIVE AND PROGNOSTIC BIOMARKERS

TNBCs are clinically heterogeneous-some respond well to chemotherapy while others don’t, some relapse early while others don’t, and so on. Thus there is a critical need to understand which patients are at the greatest risk for an aggressive disease course and to decipher how to target each patient’s unique tumor biology. To unlock the promise of precision medicine for TNBC patients, ICART scientists are spearheading cutting-edge research into independent prognostic and predictive biomarkers that can illuminate actionable biology for TNBC patients.

NOVEL THERAPIES

Current systemic treatments for TNBC patients often cause devastating side effects and, for too many patients, only prolong survival for a matter of months. There is thus a critical unmet need to develop innovative therapies that precisely target cancer cells, and produce durable treatment responses. Thus, the next frontier for ICART scientists is exploring and optimizing new therapeutic strategies.

RACIAL DISPARITIES IN BREAST CANCER

In the US, African American women suffer a greater risk of being diagnosed with advanced breast cancer and the aggressive TNBC subtype. They are also more likely to experience distant metastases, chemoresistance, and mortality than white women with breast cancer. These disparities involve the complex interactions of socioeconomic factors, cultural practices, differences in access to quality care, and ancestral genetic predispositions, all of which are inextricably intertwined. A primary goal of ICART is ameliorating racial disparities in breast cancer-related outcomes.

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RESEARCH AREAS

 

OUR RESEARCH

The ICART network currently represents TNBC researchers from 12 different groups from 10 institutions in 9 different countries on 4 continents of the world.

NORTHSIDE HOSPITAL, USA

Linking Regional and National Cancer Care Programs to the World

As one of 21 community hospitals that are part of the National Cancer Institute (NCI)’s Community Cancer Centers Program (NCCCP), Northside Hospital in Atlanta, Georgia aims to enhance access to, and quality of, cancer care for patients in underserved populations.

 

As Medical Director for the NCCCP at Northside Hospital, Dr Guilherme Cantuaria oversees the hospital’s cancer activities. He is also a breast cancer surgeon, and Co-Chair of the Program’s clinical trials subcommittee, which advances novel treatments for cancer patients in Atlanta, Georgia, nationwide – and now worldwide, thanks to his involvement in the ICART network.

 

ICART Partner Laboratory at Northside Hospital:

 

The Cantuaria Lab

Dr Guilherme Cantuaria, MD, PhD

Breast cancer surgery

NOTTINGHAM CITY HOSPITAL, United Kingdom

Affiliated to the University of Nottingham, Nottingham City Hospital, UK, has a longstanding research interest and international track record in the classification and diagnosis of breast cancer, the evolution of prognostic factors, and understanding of the mechanisms governing hormone response in breast cancer. In fact, the Nottingham grading system, developed at the Hospital, has become the international gold standard in histological classification.

 

Key group leaders in the ICART network based at Nottingham City Hospital are Dr. Emad Rakha, Chair of the Department of Histopathology and Honorary Consultant Pathologist specializing in breast cancer, and Dr. Ian O. Ellis, Professor of Cancer Pathology and one of the world’s most influential breast cancer experts

ICART Partner Laboratories at Nottingham City Hospital:

 

The Rakha Lab

Dr Emad Rakha, MD, PhD

Breast pathology

Immunophenotypic characterization of breast cancer

 

The Ellis Lab

Dr Ian Ellis, BMedSci, BM, BS, FRCPath

Diagnosis, classification, and evaluation of breast cancer

Hormone responses in breast cancer

Breast cancer research at Stavanger University in Norway is centered on the Department of Pathology, which makes use of a unique and precious biobank collection to advance the study of TNBC and other cancers. Since 1978, tissue samples from every person in Norway have been collected and stored as paraffin blocks and fresh-frozen tissue, creating a priceless resource for retrospective studies on predictive and prognostic markers.

 

Dr Emiel Janssen in the key point of contact for the ICART network in Norway. As a Professor of Biomedicine, he leads a group that carries out both diagnostic work and investigative research into breast and gynecological cancers.

 

ICART Partner Laboratory at Stavanger University, Norway:

 

The Janssen Lab

Dr Emiel Janssen, PhD

Molecular pathology of breast cancer

Prognostic and predictive tumor biomarkers

 

Dr. Håvard Søiland, MD, PhD: Dr. Søiland is a breast and endocrine surgeon and biomedical scientist whose interests include evaluating novel prognostic and predictive breast cancer biomarkers and exploring the journeys of breast cancer patients through the course of their disease. He is the director of the Stavanger Breast Cancer Research Group at Stavanger University Hospital, a founding member of the Prospective Breast Cancer Biobank Study at Haukeland and Stavanger University Hospitals, and a key investigator for the international qualitative study “I Am Not the Same” anchored in the Stavanger Breast Cancer Research Group at Stavanger University Hospital in Norway with contributions from the Departments of Nursing and Plastic Surgery at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center.  

EMORY UNIVERSITY SCHOOL OF MEDICINE, Atlanta, GA, USA

ICART’s links with Emory University School of Medicine center on the Winship Cancer Institute; Georgia’s only National Cancer Institute-designated cancer center that serves as the coordinating center for cancer research, education and care throughout Emory University. Flagship laboratories involved in the ICART network are those of Dr Uma Krishnamurti and Dr Xiaoxian (Bill) Li, both Assistant Professors in the Pathology & Laboratory Medicine Department, and involved with Winship’s Cancer Genetics and Epigenetics Program.

 

ICART Partner Laboratories at Emory University School of Medicine:

 

The Krishnamurti Lab

Dr Uma Krishnamurti, MD, PhD

Pathology and cytopathology of breast cancers

Cancer genetics and epigenetics

 

The Li Lab

Dr Bill Li, MD, PhD

Breast pathology

Cancer genetics and epigenetics

 

Dr. Mylin Torres, MD: Dr. Torres is a board-certified radiation oncologist specializing in the treatment of breast cancer and Associate Professor of Radiation Oncology at Emory University School of Medicine. She is also the Louisa and Rand Glenn Family Chair in Breast Cancer Research and the Director of the Glenn Family Breast Center at the Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University. Her research focuses on multi-disciplinary treatment techniques to improve clinical outcomes for breast cancer patients and includes clinical trial development, identifying breast cancer patients at risk for treatment side-effects, and improving the quality of life of breast cancer survivors.

 

Dr. Michelle D. Reid, MD, MS: Dr. Reid is a board-certified cytopathologist and anatomic and clinical pathologist and Associate Professor of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine at the Emory University School of Medicine. Her research interests include classification and diagnosis of pancreatobiliary neoplasms using molecular markers and fluorescence in situ hybridization and evaluation of prognostic and predictive breast cancer biomarkers.

MITCHELL CANCER INSTITUTE, Mobile, AL, USA

The Mitchell Cancer Institute (MCI) serves cancer patients in the Gulf Coast Region and beyond. Its strategic goal is to become an NCI-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center within the next decade, to which end it strives to provide state-of-the-art interdisciplinary cancer treatment, a diversity of clinical cancer trials, funded basic and translational cancer research, professional and outreach to the underserved in the community to help prevent and control cancer. It has also entered into a consortium partnership with University of Alabama Birmingham Comprehensive Cancer Center to help achieve this objective.

 

Dr. Brett Baskovich, MD: Dr. Baskovich is a board-certified Molecular Pathologist and Anatomic and Clinical Pathologist who serves as an Assistant Professor and the Molecular Pathology Director at the University of South Alabama College of Medicine. His research interests include genetic screening of ethnic minority populations and methods to automate web-based synoptic reports for anatomic pathology laboratory information systems and databases.

UNIVERSITY HOSPITAL, Zurich, Switzerland

At the center of the European continent and affiliated to the prestigious University of Zurich, University Hospital Zurich is a world-class center for patient care and research. A key focus of the Hospital’s Institute of Surgical Pathology is to provide the whole gamut of tissue analysis services, as well as clinically oriented research using molecular methods.

Dr Zsuzsanna Varga is a Professor at the University of Zurich and serves as a staff pathologist within the Institute of Surgical Pathology at University Hospital Zurich, where she specializes in breast cancer.

ICART Partner Laboratory at University Hospital Zurich, Switzerland:

 

Dr Zsuzsanna Varga, PhD

Surgical pathology of breast cancer

UNIVERSITY OF TURIN, Torino, Italy

The University of Turin is one of Europe’s oldest universities, steeped in tradition and distinguished by its illustrious faculty and alumni, including several Nobel laureates. The University of Turin Department of Oncology (UNITO), School of Medicine, at the Candiolo Cancer Institute comprises world-renowned experimental and clinical cancer researchers who are committed to meaningfully advancing knowledge about cancer, from its molecular underpinnings to innovative ways to diagnose and treat it. At the forefront of its mission are over 300 scientists, whose are dedicated not only to conducting rigorous, thought-leading research but also to training the next generation of researchers in experimental medical science in internationally acclaimed programs.

Dr. Anna Sapino, MD: Dr. Sapino serves as a Full Professor of Pathological Anatomy and Histology, Medical School, University of Turin. She is also the Head of the III Service of Surgical Pathology, Azienda Ospedaliera Città della Salute e della Scienza, Turin, Italy, the Head of the Centro Unificato per lo Screening dei Tumori della Cervice Uterina della Città di Torino, Turin, Italy, and the Appointed chair of the ESP Working Group for Breast Pathology. She has published nearly 200 scientific papers and reviews, mostly focusing on breast cancer, including how targeted treatments impact breast cancer cells at the molecular level, novel predictors of clinical status in breast cancer, and risk factors for developing meningeal carcinomatosis in breast cancer.

RAJIV GANDHI CANCER INSTITUTE AND RESEARCH CENTRE, India

Rajiv Gandhi Cancer Institute & Research Centre is today counted amongst Asia’s premier exclusive cancer centres, that offers the unique advantage of cutting edge technology, put to use by renowned super specialists. This potent combination of man and machine ensures world-class cancer care to not only patients from India, but also from the neighboring SAARC countries and others. We are fortunate to have taken care of over 1.95 Lakh patients since inception in 1996. The Institute has been accredited by NABH and NABL for its quality of services, and holds ISO 9001 and ISO 14001 certifications. More...

 

Dr. Ajay K. Dewan, MBBS, MS, M.Ch
Director - Surgical Oncology & Chief of Breast Cancer Services 

 

Dr. Anurag Mehta, MBBS, MD
Director - Department of Laboratory & Transfusion Services and Director of Research

TATA MEMORIAL HOSPITAL, India

 

UNIVERSITY OF COLOMBO, Sri Lanka

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THE UNIVERSITY OF NOTTINGHAM
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