Improving Our Knowledge of Breast Cancer

Colombian scientist, Lina Gallego, will conduct her studies in Latin America, so as to improve our knowledge of the four unique forms of breast cancer and the four types of treatment.

During her PhD in Japan, Lina Gallego has been investigating how a breakdown in chromosome and genome stability during cell division is linked to the onset of cancer. 

She now wants to build on her knowledge of genomic profiling to help women with different forms of breast cancer receive the most appropriate treatment. 

Because the United States-Latin American Cancer Research Network – a unique research collaboration aimed at analyzing the genomic profiles of 3,000 breast cancer patients from across Latin America – does not include Colombia, she will pursue her research in Argentina.

Breast cancer accounts for some 30% of all cancers diagnosed in women in developed countries and about 16% of all cancer deaths. However, it is not a single disease treatable with a unique therapy, but a group of disorders, each defined by a distinct molecular profile and each requiring a different approach to treatment.

Four main molecular profiles are commonly used to characterize different types of breast cancer. Lina’s research will contribute to a major clinical trial which aims to investigate the distribution of these four profiles amongst Latin American breast cancer patients and then to use these profiles as predictive and prognostic tools for treatment. The Latin American population, with its mix of European, Native American and African genetic ancestry, is particularly interesting for Lina’s work, as breast cancer incidence and mortality rates vary considerably between different ethnic groups.

In the initial stages of the clinical trial, Lina will analyze each patient’s molecular profile and tumour type. All patients will then receive the most appropriate treatment according to standard practice. In the second phase of the trial, she will investigate the efficacy of neoadjuvant chemotherapy (i.e., administered prior to surgery or other forms of treatment) in women from each profile type by comparing their recovery and survival rates after full treatment.

This will allow her to deduce whether patients with certain molecular profiles are more responsive to this form of pre-treatment than others. These results could eventually be used in the clinical context to help doctors decide on the best treatment pathways for Latin American breast cancer patients.

More information about Lina Gallego

For Women in Science

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