Preclinical Trials for Breast Cancer

Institution: University of California, Davis
Investigator(s): Robert Cardiff, M.D., Ph.D. -
Award Cycle: 2003 (Cycle IX) Grant #: 9MB-0218 Award: $25,000
Award Type: Joining Forces Conference Award
Research Priorities
Detection, Prognosis and Treatment>Innovative Treatment Modalities: search for a cure

Final Report (2004)
Founded in the mid-1950s, the International Association for Breast Cancer Research (IABCR) is an international community of scientists focused on the important issues in modern breast cancer research. The 24th IABCR Congress, focused on preclinical research using mouse models of human breast cancer, was sponsored by UC Davis Cancer Center, the Office of Women’s Health of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the California Breast Cancer Research Program, and the National Cancer Institute’s Mouse Models of Human Cancers Consortium and Specialized Programs of Research Excellence. The meetings were held in Sacramento California, November 1-5, 2003. The theme of the congress was pre-clinical trials in breast cancer, especially the application of mouse models. The meetings attracted 325 registrants and brought 60 of the world’s experts to California to present their latest breast cancer research. There were both morning “General Plenary Sessions” attended by the entire congress and smaller afternoon “breakout sessions” designed for more specialized presentations and discussions. The breakout sessions were organized into “tracks” for population biology, technology, cell biology and molecular biology. Each of these mini-symposia featured three or four invited speakers and a like number of podium presentations selected from the poster sessions. Finally, posters sessions were featured in the late afternoon with a wine and cheese reception. The poster sessions and receptions provided an excellent opportunity for the scientists to interact.

The CBCRP sponsored and organized the participation of 15 breast cancer advocates. The advocates introduced, provided an overview of their advocacy organization’s mission, and co-moderated every session. In addition, they were briefed before the Congress by Dr. Cardiff and were given the opportunity to attend and participate in all the sessions. The involvement of advocates was the first for a breast cancer meeting sponsored by the NCI and by the IABCR. The advocates proved to be outstanding and valued meeting participants who set the tone for each session. The European scientific community, initially reluctant, was particularly enthusiastic about the involvement of the advocates and has insisted that breast cancer advocates be a vital part of future IABCR congresses.

The pre-clinical trials plenary sessions were organized by the NCI Mouse Models of Human Cancers Consortium’s Breast Cancer Committee, Chaired by Drs. Green (NIH) and Lee (UCI). These sessions were designed to discuss the advantages and disadvantages of the new genetically engineered mouse (GEM) models of human breast cancer. The first morning discussed new models of human breast cancer. The presentations by Drs. Muller and Chodosh featured new insights into the genetic mechanisms controlling breast cancer and received front page coverage in the national and international media. The second plenary session featured case-use examples by investigators actually using GEM models for preclinical trials. Drs. Schmidt, Brown, and Benz reviewed their successful use of GEM for intervention and prevention of Her-2/neu- related cancers.

The third plenary session was in many ways the highlight of the meeting. Session participants discussed the intellectual property laws surrounding the use of the GEM models. The presentations and subsequent discussions dramatized the conflicts between the clinician-scientists who are frustrated by what they see as restrictive patent rights and egregious licensing agreements and the need for the biotechnology industry to protect their investments. In the view of Ms. Patterson, Esq., (NCI) progress has been made to break down these barriers but more work is still required. These discussions also led to front page exposure in the national and international press. A follow up article has appeared in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, Vol. 96, No. 2, 92-94, January 21, 2004.

The fourth plenary session featured innovative research from the California biotechnology industry. Organized by Dr. Winter, the morning session covered many of the technologies of the future and innovative approaches to today’s problems.