MGM: Molecular & Genetic Markers in Breast Cancer Research Program

Transforming Breast Cancer Treatment: From Standard Therapy to Personalized Care

For 100 years, breast cancer treatment has consisted of a "one size fits all" method for every patient - surgery, radiation and medical treatment. Unfortunately some patients respond better to this standardized protocol for cancer treatment than others. Recent data proves that the genetic makeup of people affects how their body reacts to medication and cancer treatment. Therefore the question becomes, "How do we achieve permanent remission for each breast cancer patient?" As we progress towards this answer, the question then arises, "How best do we predict who will develop cancer and then, how can we try to prevent it?"

Cleveland Clinic: Grounded in Innovation

The late George W. "Barney" Crile, Jr., M.D., the son of one of our founders, was America's first well-known advocate of tissue-sparing techniques in breast cancer surgery. Fifty years ago, Dr. Crile declared that the future of breast cancer treatment lay not in surgery, but "in the study of chemistry and the very nature of the cancer cell."

A New Era in Cancer Treatment Emerging

Dr. Crile's far-seeing wisdom is being realized today by a multidisciplinary team working together to accelerate the transition from standard approaches to breast cancer treatment, to the new age of genetically-based, personalized medicine.

Program Structure

Through the Breast Center, samples of tissue and blood are collected from breast cancer patients for initial observation and ongoing follow-up. Cleveland Clinic researchers simultaneously analyze the samples for molecular and genetic factors. Researchers also have access to archived frozen tissue specimens of cancer patients, which Cleveland Clinic has stored since 1980. Comparing these older specimens with the long-term clinical outcomes of the patients who received breast cancer treatment provides a powerful and unique research resource.

Ultimately, all the clinical data is merged with the molecular and genetic data and analyzed to determine: Which tumors responded best to which cancer treatments?

MGM: Providing Hope for Future Breast Cancer Patients

Breast cancer strikes one in 8 women in North America. Despite advances in diagnosis and treatment, research has shown that many women, even with early stage breast cancer, continue to relapse beyond 5 years after treatment. Through genetics research, we will eventually be able to predict who is at risk of breast cancer and then tailor treatments to achieve permanent remission.

MGM Breast Cancer Program Team

Opportunities to Help Achieve Permanent Remission for Every Breast Cancer Patient

We have a variety of opportunities for our philanthropic partners to help advance personalized breast cancer treatment. We build a partnership between the MGM team and each donor to create a lasting impact on advancing breast cancer research and treatment. Philanthropy and naming opportunities include:

  • Endowed Chairs to enable innovations and program perpetuity
  • Equipment for gene and marker identification, cell mutation detection and analysis
  • Workspace renovations to modernize research capabilities
  • Tissue bank for efficient collection and storage of all breast cancer tumor samples
  • Fellowships to advance breast cancer clinical and research education

Molecular Genetic Pathology Core Program: The Cellular Foundation

The Molecular Pathology team conducts sophisticated molecular genetic pathology analysis of breast cancer specimens. Serving as the core facilities for translational molecular research programs and the extraction and storage of DNA and RNA, this team analyzes over 10,000 samples for the MGM program. This translational research program will undoubtedly lead to the improved understanding and cancer treatment of specific tumor types.

Patient Tumor Procurement

Cleveland Clinic's Breast Center team cares for over 75,000 women each year. As a result, we host the largest database of patient and tumor samples in the nation.

Educating Tomorrow's Innovators

Educating and mentoring emerging physicians and researchers is critical to advancing medical treatment. Aside from the opportunity to partner with a world leading mentor, the extensive available patient and tumor samples are an enormous draw for post doctoral candidates. We rely on up-and-coming researchers to analyze this data and learn from their mentors.

Breast Cancer Family History Program

If you have family members diagnosed with major illnesses such as cancer, wouldn't you like to know whether you are at increased risk for similar diseases, so that you can prevent them from ever occurring? Genomic medicine has the potential to offer personalized risk assessment for individuals through molecular diagnostics and predictive testing.

Increasing Efficiencies to Achieve Personalized Medicine Sooner

Currently our MGM team works from numerous databases. To avoid duplications and validate all data, we need to develop one central MGM database for statistical analysis and tumor tracking.

Breast Cancer Microenvironment Program: Predicting Outcome and New Drug Targets

Breast cancer is believed to be a tumor of the breast duct cells. The cells surrounding these malignant breast cells are considered to be normal support cells called the stroma. We have discovered that these breast cancer stroma cells have mutated. More research needs to be done so we can predict who is at risk for relapsing and hence, can tailor more effective therapy and develop new targeted treatments

Inherited Causes of Breast Cancer Research Program

All breast cancers are "genetic." It is important to determine which specific gene could be mutated in breast cancer patients because each gene, when mutated, gives different risks of different types of cancers. Defining which mutation leads to which type of cancer will allow for tailored screening as well as genetic testing for all family members.

Radiation Therapy Research Project to Identify Who Will Benefit From the Treatment

Currently 40% of lumpectomy patients will suffer from a reoccurrence if not followed by radiation treatment. In other words, often women are treated with radiation without needing it. Therefore, we need to identify the subset of patients who will not need radiation to prevent them from having to suffer from exposure to the potentially toxic therapy. In the end, we will define specific gene markers to eventually develop a test to allow women to avoid radiation.

Advancing Personalized Breast Cancer Treatment

As novel discoveries are achieved, the greatest needs of the program team changes. New breakthroughs yield new opportunities to answer new questions and validate realized results. Therefore, the MGM team relies on general support to help advance the emerging innovations and achieve the program's overall mission.