World Breast Cancer Day 2013: marking seven years´ Breast Cancer Research Foundation support for VHIO

Joaquín Arribas, Director of Preclinical Research at VHIO, this week joined 165 of the world´s leading breast cancer researchers in New York to receive a grant at the Breast Cancer Research Foundation´s signature event: the 2013 Symposium and Awards Luncheon.

For the seventh consecutive year, The Breast Cancer Research Foundation (BCRF) has awarded a grant for Joaquín Arribas´research directed at advancing progress against HER2-positive breast cancer. In the company of some 1, 200 guests, including internationally acclaimed breast cancer investigators, New York area opinion leaders and philanthropists, Joaquín attended the BCRF´s annual scientific Symposium and Awards Luncheon, 14 – 15 October, announcing its 2013-2014 research grants to 207 researchers from across the globe, including a grant to further Joaquín’s studies aimed at identifying mechanisms of resistance to anti-HER2 therapies and developing novel therapies to counteract such resistance.

BCRF funding of breast cancer research at VHIO was first initiated thanks to the Foundation´s early collaboration with José Baselga, the then Director of VHIO, currently Physician-in-Chief at the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center (MSKCC), New York. It is thanks to such belief in breast cancer research at VHIO that 2013 celebrates the seventh anniversary of BCRF support.

“2013 marks the seventh year of support for the research of Dr. Arribas from The Breast Cancer Research Foundation”
, stated Margaret (Peg) Mastrianni, BCRF Deputy Director and Chief Program Officer. “His work exemplifies the research excellence and global commitment to which the Foundation is dedicated.”

“All sources of funding are absolutely critical to developing research carried out at VHIO. In the case of The Breast Cancer Research Foundation, its support certainly fuels our endeavors. Without BCRF backing, research conducted by my group, VHIO´s Growth Factors Group, would be seriously compromised. This funding has undoubtedly enabled us to better diagnose HER2-positive breast cancer and advance patient treatmen
t”, affirms Joaquín Arribas.

BCRF annual support: driving new advances in precision oncology

HER2 is a cell surface receptor expressed at excessive levels in approximately 20% of breast cancers. This group of HER2-positive (HER2+) tumors constitutes a type of breast cancer with specific biological characteristics and therapeutic options, which include anti-HER2 antibodies and synthetic HER2 inhibitors. A subset of HER2+ tumors express, in addition to the full-length HER2 protein, some HER2 fragments, collectively known as p95HER2, which are particularly active and promote the malignant transformation very efficiently. In fact, p95HER2-positive tumors tend to be particularly aggressive and resistant to the treatment with anti-HER2 antibodies.

It is thanks to BCRF funding, that Joaquín Arribas has been able to show that the expression of p95HER2 in some breast cancer cell lines leads to premature cellular senescence, which is a natural process by which cells “age” and begin to die. These senescent cells did not proliferate but remained alive during long periods of time and produced pro-metastatic factors that helped neighboring cancer cells to be more metastatic. Therefore, inhibition of these pro-metastatic factors may constitute a novel therapeutic approach which may be particularly relevant since many of the chemo- and radiotherapies currently used result in the appearance of senescent cells.


About The Breast Cancer Research Foundation® (BCRF):

Founded by Evelyn H. Lauder in 1993, The Breast Cancer Research Foundation has raised more than $450 million in the last 20 years to advance the world’s most promising breast cancer research to achieve prevention and a cure in our lifetime. In October 2013, BCRF will commit $45 million to support the work of more than 200 researchers at major medical institutions across six continents and 12 countries, including the U.S. By spending 91 cents of every dollar on research and awareness programs, BCRF remains one of the nation’s most fiscally responsible charities. It has earned four stars from Charity Navigator since 2002 and is the only breast cancer organization awarded an “A+” from CharityWatch. For more information, visit:

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