Discovery at the ULB in the treatment of breast cancer

Breast Cancer: ULB researchers are discovering a way to improve diagnosis and predict the effectiveness of chemotherapy.

Breast cancer is the most common cancer in women in Belgium with more than 10,000 cases diagnosed each year. A major challenge in modern oncology is to improve the diagnosis in order to find the optimal treatment: the aggressiveness and effectiveness of the same treatment can vary considerably from one patient to another, depending on the Molecular characteristics of tumors.

In a new study published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation, the teams of François Fuks (Laboratory of Epigenetics of Cancer, Faculty of Medicine) and Christos Sotiriou (Research Laboratory of Breast Cancer, Institut Jules Bordet) discovered a signature that improves diagnosis by quantifying the immune cells in tumors. Based on changes in DNA methylation in breast cancer, this signature also predicts, at the time of diagnosis, whether the patient will respond or not to chemotherapy. The researchers also showed that this signature improves the diagnosis of many other cancers, including melanoma and lung cancer.

In order to prolong this study with concrete results, the researchers are also launching a new project in partnership with Walloon company Diagenode. The goal of the project is to develop a test based on this new signature for use in clinical routine, which will be offered to oncologists to help them choose the best treatment for their patients. This ambitious and timely project is supported by the Health Competitiveness Cluster of Wallonia, BioWin, with € 3.7 million.