Triple Negative Breast Cancer

The Georgetown University Innovation Center for Biomedical Informatics, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration Office of Minority Health, and MedStar Health joined together to study Triple Negative Breast Cancer (TNBC) in Latinas and African American Women. 

The objective of this study was to identify molecular markers in TNBC patients for drug discovery research and personalized medicine. This research provided the infrastructure, data, and tools to analyze multi-omics data from TNBC samples to help reviewers at the FDA use this framework for new targeted therapies in breast cancer.

Breast cancer is the leading cause of death in African American women, and women from Latin America, whether living in the United States or in their countries of origin. An overall breast cancer disparity is well documented in these populations, and has been found due to multiple factors such as socioeconomic status, environment, and genetic background. However, the individual contribution of each of these factors to the observed poor outcome remains unclear.

Triple negative breast cancer (TNBC) accounts for about 10-17% of all breast cancers and is defined by the lack of estrogen receptors, progesterone receptors and human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2). The most successful types of treatment target these three receptors.

TNBC can be particularly aggressive, especially when diagnosed at more advanced stages of cancer growth. Unfortunately, many Latina and African American women receive late-stage diagnoses and tend to have non-localized disease, meaning these women are subject shorter survival rates when compared to White women, coupled with the higher incidence rates of TNBC among Latina and African American women. These data suggest that the clinical outcome of this aggressive breast cancer molecular subtype varies among the different ethnic and racial groups.

Collaborators included Sandy Swain and Raquel Nunes at MedStar Washington Hospital Center and Luciane Cavalli at Georgetown Lombardi.