Better understanding metastatic breast cancer

Aurora trial - woman

The AURORA research programme aims to better understand the molecular characteristics and evolution of recurrent or metastatic breast cancer, in the hope of treating more effectively, and possibly blocking the disease in the future.

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Female chest, symbol illustrating women diagnosed with breast cancer
Microscope, symbol illustrating research
BIG groups
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European countries
Stethoscop, symbol illustrating breast cancer experts

This programme will address an important unmet medical need in metastatic breast cancer, for which current treatment options are limited and are usually based on the clinical-pathological characteristics of the primary tumour rather than on the characteristics of the tumour once it has spread.

A first phase of the study involving over 1,150 patients from over 60 hospitals linked to 11 BIG member groups in 12 European countries, recently concluded.  Initial results for the first 381 patients included in this first phase, published in Cancer Discovery in June 2021, have identified genomic changes that may be linked with the spread of cancer and increased resistance to standard treatments.

What’s more, researchers estimate that in almost 50% of cases the genomic changes identified could provide oncologists with additional information useful for their patients, such as which ones could be considered for clinical trials.

A second phase (AURORA 2.0) will focus on specific subtypes of metastatic breast cancer, namely invasive lobular cancer, triple negative breast cancer, and those with late relapses, 10 or more years after their primary diagnosis. BIG considers these as areas of high unmet need, for which AURORA could provide high scientific and clinical impact.

To date, AURORA is the largest molecular screening programme involving paired biopsies, blood samples, and a rich set of clinical and molecular data collected longitudinally from patients with MBC. It represents a tremendous logistical effort and a valuable resource for researchers around the globe.

AURORA is therefore expected open the door to new treatment strategies in the future, contributing to better and longer lives of patients affected by metastatic breast cancer.


The Breast International Group, its research groups, and investigators and Headquarters’ staff are deeply grateful to all of those who have contributed generously to support AURORA over the years, through grants and donations: The Breast Cancer Research Foundation® (BCRF) as the main funder; Fondation Cancer (Luxembourg); Pfizer grant for non-drug research; Fondation contre le Cancer (Belgium); National Lottery (Belgium) and all its players; NIF Foundation; Barrie and Dena Webb; Candriam; the Fund Friends of BIG managed by the King Baudouin Foundation; Martine Piccart; the Hotimsky family; Sogerim; Think Pink Belgium (SMART Fund); Cognizant Foundation; Eurofins Foundation;  Fondation Futur 21;  and many individual donors. Without their precious support, AURORA would not be possible.

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