BIG Breast International Group
We will find a cure for breast cancer through global research and collaboration.

Aurora, A Metastatic Breast Cancer GPS

Objective: to find the right treatment for every patient by creating a breast cancer "GPS" indicating the best route to treatment today and cure tomorrow

New technologies make cost-effective genetic analysis of breast cancer tumours possible through a process called molecular screening. This process reveals the genetic landscape of a tumour to scientists, enabling them to identify which type of treatment would most benefit an individual patient.

It’s like using an intelligent GPS system that examines a multitude of data to choose the ideal route to the destination – the best possible treatment and one day a cure.

When molecular screening is paired with building a bio-repository (storing samples of tumour tissue and blood for future use), scientists can run valuable new experiments and studies at a later stage.

AURORA focuses exclusively on patients with metastatic breast cancer. 1 in 3 breast cancer patients will develop metastases (cancerous cells that disperse within the body and invade other organs). Once this happens, the cancer becomes incurable, with a median survival time of 3 years.

The challenge is to prolong the life expectancy and quality of life of these patients, and – one day – to find a cure.  Until now, very little progress has been made in this domain, something which BIG aims to change.

Building this GPS means that – initially – about 1300 patients will have tumour samples (both from their initial diagnosis and at the time of metastasis) tested for genetic changes using the latest technologies.  This information will allow us 1) to analyse the mechanisms of resistance to treatment (why some patients respond poorly), 2) to evaluate the sensitivity to treatment (why some patients respond exceptionally well), and 3) to learn about the natural progress of the disease.  

Generating this knowledge will contribute markedly to improving patients’ lives. It’s like being able to update GPS maps whenever new routes are discovered.

Whenever possible, patients in AURORA will also be offered to participate in a clinical trial testing experimental drugs targeting the specific genetic characteristics of their tumours.  These trials will either be developed by BIG or by other organizations.  

AURORA will be the first broadly international programme of its kind to focus on metastatic breast cancer in order to improve patient survival and quality of life today and to develop individualised cures for the future.

AURORA is being made possible by The Breast Cancer Research Foundation (BCRF), the Fondation Cancer (Luxembourg), the National Lottery (Belgium), NIF Trust, and individual donors.

Dr Martine Piccart presenting the Aurora programme: view the video here.


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