IBBL stores 52,000 new breast cancer samples

IBBL (Integrated BioBank of Luxembourg) today announces that it now hosts an extensive breast cancer collection from a European clinical trial. The EU-supported study aims to improve prediction of the risk of recurrence in breast cancer patients in order to better select patients who can safely be spared chemotherapy.

Even if breast cancer is diagnosed at an early stage, where it hasn’t spread yet and can be surgically removed, a significant number of women eventually relapse due to metastases. Thus, patients with a high risk of recurrence are treated with additional chemotherapy following surgery. Although chemotherapy can be a life-saving treatment, it has important side effects.  It is therefore essential to be able to identify those patients who will really benefit from the treatment. Currently, oncologists base their decisions about administering chemotherapy on a combination of factors, such as presence of hormone and HER-2 receptors, age, tumour size, lymph node involvement and grade. These prognostic tools are limited, however, and do not allow doctors to optimally distinguish between patients needing treatment or not.

The MINDACT (Microarray In Node negative Disease may Avoid ChemoTherapy) trial was set up to improve the accuracy of treatment decision-making in order to avoid chemotherapy whenever safely possible. The study’s main objective is to assess the safe use of Mammaprint® to more accurately predict recurrence without affecting patient survival. Commercialised by Agendia, this tool measures the expression (level of activity) of a set of 70 genes able to categorise patients into high or low risk of relapse. It is believed that the concomitant use of this type of tool with the common clinical and pathological factors described above will allow a better selection of patients needing chemotherapy.

MINDACT is partially supported by the European Commission. It was developed under the TRANSBIG network, a consortium of the Breast International Group (BIG), which is a non-profit network of breast cancer research groups from around the world.  The trial is sponsored and coordinated by the EORTC (European Organisation for Research and Treatment of Cancer), the largest independent cancer research organisation in Europe, regrouping over 300 institutions.

In this trial more than 11000 patients were screened and 6600 patients were recruited between 2007 and 2011 from 111 European institutions. The over 52,000 samples derived from these patients, including tissue, blood and serum, have now been moved to IBBL for long-term storage. IBBL’s research support infrastructure and central location in Europe is ideal for the collection and storage of biological samples from such large-scale international studies.

This is the second European clinical trial within a short period of time for which the young biobank has been selected. Dr Catherine Larue, Chief Executive Officer of IBBL comments; “We are proud to be chosen for international studies by prestigious organisations and are constantly looking for new avenues to enhance our activities. This type of collaboration can further grow both IBBL’s and Luxembourg’s reputation within the international biomedical research sector”