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The State of Breast Cancer Research: a CRO’s Perspective

Breast Cancer Awareness Month is observed around the world each October. Last year, OCT Clinical — a trusted Eastern European oncology CRO — published an article discussing breast cancer and other cancers affecting women. The blog piece suggested ways to advance oncology research through CRO services and by managing clinical trials more efficiently.

This year, we are taking this opportunity to highlight some of the latest research developments in treatments for breast cancer. As a CRO with an extensive oncology portfolio, including clinical study management for 16 breast cancer studies to date, OCT Clinical is committed to supporting Sponsors worldwide in their search for a cure. Our team of over 200 clinical research professionals is united in the fight against all cancers. So, this October, we pause to recognize some of the significant advancements in breast cancer research and therapies.

New Findings on Metastatic Breast Cancer Cell Growth

Understanding metastatic breast cancer and how to treat it is a primary focus for research as the medical community looks for ways to treat and prevent more advanced stages of the disease. Metastasized cells often do not respond to treatment once they have grown beyond the primary tumor.

Now, a team at Purdue University in the United States is working to understand how these metastatic cells grow and change as they move throughout the body. Their research uses special technology to mimic conditions within the body, so they may observe how cells respond to movement (such as that of the lungs when breathing). Michael Wendt, a Purdue associate professor of medicinal chemistry and molecular pharmacology, explained that researchers now know that “healthy organs utilize motion to resist metastatic colonization.” This finding will be significant as they continue to study how metastasized cells respond to treatment.

Metastatic Breast Cancer Treatment Approved in 2020

Metastatic breast cancer is a more serious form of breast cancer, and thus more difficult to treat — but even more so when it is triple-negative. As explained on, this type of breast cancer tests negative for estrogen receptors, progesterone receptors, and excess HER2 protein, meaning it does not respond to treatments that target these factors. Identifying new treatments for triple-negative breast cancer is an important area of focus for clinical development.

In April of 2020, the FDA granted accelerated approval for the drug Trodelvy. This treatment has been approved for patients with triple-negative metastatic breast cancer whose condition has not improved from the use of other therapies. This targeted therapy provides a new avenue, and potentially new hope, for advanced breast cancer patients who have already tried at least two other treatment options.

Single Dose Radiotherapy for Early-Stage Breast Cancer

Radiotherapy is a common avenue for treating breast cancer at many stages. For early breast cancer, when cancerous tumours can be removed surgically to preserve breast tissue, several rounds of radiation typically follow to reduce the risk of breast cancer returning.

This summer, findings were published showing that radiotherapy targeting only the area of the tumor during surgery (TARGIT-IORT) is just as effective as radiotherapy administered to the entire breast (EBRT). The study results also suggested that TARGIT-IORT prevents most patients from needing additional rounds of radiotherapy following the lumpectomy procedure, and that patients may experience fewer side effects. If this method is made accessible to all healthcare providers and their patients, it could offer a better quality of life for breast cancer patients seeking effective treatment.

Perspective from a Trusted Oncology CRO

OCT Clinical has been managing clinical trials in Russia since 2005. In that time, our team has been involved in 16 phase I-IV breast cancer studies and has completed projects for a number of other oncologic indications affecting women. We know the challenges specific to oncology trials, and offer the services necessary to conduct potentially life-saving research in an efficient manner. If you’d like to speak with our team about offshoring clinical trials or inquire about specific project needs, contact us today.

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