Breast Cancer Brain Mets Harbor Molecular Changes Which May Be Therapeutic Targets Interview with:

Dr. Adrian Lee PhD Professor, Department of Pharmacology and Chemical Biology Director, Women's Cancer Research Center University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute

Dr. Adrian Lee

Dr. Adrian Lee PhD
Professor, Department of Pharmacology and Chemical Biology
Director, Women’s Cancer Research Center
University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: The goal of this study was to understand molecular changes which occur when breast cancers metastasize to the brain, with the eventual of identifying new therapeutic strategies. Brain metastases occur in 10-15% of patients with metastatic breast cancer and are a major clinical challenge. Limited therapeutic options exist for patients with brain metastases. We analyzed molecular changes in pairs of patient-matched primary breast cancers and brain metastases. We found that brain metastases tended to have the same intrinsic subtype as the primary breast cancer, however, there were many genes which changes in gene expression and may represent therapeutic targets.

The most common change was an increase in ErbB2/HER2 which can be targeted clinically. What should readers take away from your report?

Response: Our study shows that breast cancer brain metastases harbor molecular changes which may be targeted therapeutically. This study highlights the importance of measuring biomarkers in metastatic disease, with the reported changes in ErbB2/HER2 representing an important and immediately clinically actionable event. What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?

Response: There is an urgent need to better understand the mechanisms of breast cancer metastasis to the brain and to define novel therapeutic targets. We believe that it is critical to biopsy metastatic disease, and then measure molecular changes in breast cancer progression. This will aid in the identification of new targets for therapeutic intervention and eventually prevention of metastasis. Thank you for your contribution to the community.


Priedigkeit N, Hartmaier RJ, Chen Y, Vareslija D, Basudan A, Watters RJ, Thomas R, Leone JP, Lucas PC, Bhargava R, Hamilton RL, Chmielecki J, Puhalla SL, Davidson NE, Oesterreich S, Brufsky AM, Young L, Lee AV. Intrinsic Subtype Switching and Acquired ERBB2/HER2 Amplifications and Mutations in Breast Cancer Brain Metastases. JAMA Oncol. Published online December 07, 2016. doi:10.1001/jamaoncol.2016.5630

Note: Content is Not intended as medical advice. Please consult your health care provider regarding your specific medical condition and questions.

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