Interview with Dr. Sherene Loi

Sherene Loi

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Meet Dr. Sherene Loi, who shared her insights and thoughts about the Breast International Group, her involvement in BIG’s Executive Board and her commitment to breast cancer research. 

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Could you please explain what motivated you to serve on the BIG Executive Board (EB)?

The Breast International Group is an inspirational organisation. It has implemented and delivered many large practice changing clinical trials that have set new standards for the treatment of breast cancer patients and have saved countless lives. It aims to increase efficiencies in breast cancer research, by integrating clinical trial organisations worldwide. Therefore, it was an honour for me to be chosen to serve on the BIG Executive Board, and to try to continue this tradition in the setting of ongoing momentous change in the trial landscape, fantastic new compounds as well as values of pharmaceutical companies. In addition to this, I co-chair the International Breast Cancer Study Group (IBCSG), one of the oldest trial groups to be affiliated with BIG.

What are your personal goals and aspirations as a member of the Executive Board at BIG?

My goals and aspirations are to ensure the productive working of the BIG Executive Board, and hopefully to contribute to the creation of successful large phase 3 practice changing adjuvant/metastatic trials that can be delivered to the BIG network. There are so many exciting new compounds that can be bought to breast cancer patients if the right trial can be designed in collaboration with the commercial stakeholder.

Please cite some elements that you find critical for the continued success of BIG in the next decade?

– Fruitful and beneficial collaboration with large and small pharmaceutical partners.

– Trying to understand prognostic populations that can have therapy shortened in duration or in quantity.

– Successful inter-personal relationships between all stakeholders.

– Good understanding of the science behind the new compounds coming to patients.

What values do you believe are essential to ensure a positive and successful future for BIG?

Integrity, colloboration, accountablity. The Breast International Group ultimately needs to create and initiate large practice changing clinical trials. I believe this could be preferably in niche populations because this cannot be done easily by single pharmaceutical companies.

Questions with an academic background rather than commercial interest are also of high need, such as sequencing, duration, combinations, etc.

Niche populations include small genomics segments, pregnancy associated breast cancer, inflammatory breast cancer, lobular, young women, among many others.

What are the biggest challenges currently faced by all stakeholders of the breast cancer research area? How do you think BIG can play a significant role in this context?

The biggest challenge in the current trial landscape is the domination of large pharmaceutical companies, and their lack of a need to collaborate with academic organisations for large phase 3 adjuvant, as well as metastatic, practice changing clinical trials.

BIG can still play a significant role here, especially if it can come with its own funding. The success of one of the recent BIG trials, OlympiA – which brought a new therapy to a very niche and rare sub population of breast cancer – is a shining example. Even though it is a small population of breast cancer patients, it is very important, nonetheless.

Do you think we will see practice-changing results from breast cancer research in the next decade? Which ones?

Yes, I think that the next decade of breast cancer research will be very exciting. I think we will see significant improvement in survival for metastatic disease, as well as early-stage disease, becoming more optimised with less traditional chemotherapy types and escalation/ de-escalation based of the neoadjuvant model.

The incorporation of immunotherapy will likely result in improved overall survival for early-stage patients with certain types of hormone receptor (HR) positive breast cancer, as well as triple negative breast cancer. I believe we will see the Antibody-Drug Conjugates (ADCs) replace conventional cytotoxic chemotherapies. We will also see the routine integration of genomics, circulating tumour DNA (ctDNA), as well as minimal residual disease testing. I’m hopeful that we will see large scale prevention trials and early detection tests being implemented, particularly for women such as those with germline BRCA mutations. I also think we will have a better understanding of environmental carcinogens that contribute to breast cancer formation, and this will lead to better prevention strategies.  So, yes, I think the future is very exciting for breast cancer clinical trials, as well as research!

More to explore

Annual report 2022
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BIG Annual Report 2022 is out!

MISSING Act before they’re gone! Breast cancer research – saving lives The annual report is available – click here. Welcome to BIG’s Annual Report 2022,