Pfizer Awards Breast International Group (BIG) $1 Million Research Grant to Support Non-Drug Related Breast Cancer Research

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Brussels, Belgium – 9 March 2016 – The Breast International Group (BIG) is proud to announce that it has received a $1 million educational grant from Pfizer Inc. to support academic research in the field of breast cancer.

“As a not-for-profit organisation, BIG is of course thrilled with this grant of $1 million. It provides a welcome boost to our ability to further develop initial ideas we have for research that could have tremendous potential to benefit patients, but that does not involve testing specific drugs. Organisations such as Pfizer, through its generosity and commitment to support cancer research, enable us to move closer to our goal of finding cures for breast cancer and improving patients’ lives”, said Dr. Martine Piccart, co-founder and chair of the Breast International Group, Professor of Oncology at the Université Libre de Bruxelles and Director of Medicine at the Jules Bordet Institute, in Brussels, Belgium.

“Pfizer Oncology is very pleased to support BIG, an organisation with a track record of innovative, high-quality research,” said Maria Koehler, MD, PhD, Vice President of Strategy, Innovation and Collaborations for Pfizer Oncology. “We are committed to supporting independent academic research to rapidly advance understandings in breast cancer, which will benefit everyone in the scientific community. Our goal is to accelerate the pace of discoveries that will most impact the lives of patients with breast cancer.”

Facts & Figures on Breast Cancer

• Breast cancer is the most common cancer in women worldwide and the second most common cancer overall (after skin cancer);
• The chance of a woman being diagnosed with breast cancer during her lifetime is 1 in 8;
• In 2012, there were 1.7 million women diagnosed with the disease;
• 1 in 3 breast cancers will become metastatic;
• Male breast cancer accounts for 1% of all breast cancers.

The Breast International Group (BIG) and clinical trials

A few years ago, BIG decided to direct its efforts towards research in advanced or metastatic breast cancer, as well as rarer forms of the disease, such as those driven by BRCA1/2 gene mutations. With little or inconclusive data available about optimal treatment options, it is difficult for physicians to choose the best treatment path for individual patients. In 2014, BIG launched AURORA, an ambitious molecular screening research programme aimed at understanding the aberrations driving breast cancer metastasis, and defining which tumours are most likely to respond well to particular treatments. AURORA is supported entirely by charitable donations.

Several BIG studies have been practice-changing, putting aromatase inhibitors on the map (BIG 1-98), changing the way we treat young women with breast cancer (SOFT), or leading to a major breakthrough in treating HER2-positive breast cancer (HERA). BIG is also anxiously awaiting the results of the MINDACT trial, run by the EORTC (European Organisation for Research and Treatment of Cancer) under the BIG umbrella, which, hopefully, will give a clear view on whether the use of a gene signature in addition to standard pathological tests can help determine which women with node-negative and 1-to-3 node positive breast cancer may avoid chemotherapy.