For more than 15 years BIG has been conducting international clinical trials and research programmes, enrolling thousands of patients from all over the world.
BIG’s research in breast cancer covers different axes:
BIG is known for its large adjuvant trials of chemo-, hormone- and biological therapies for early breast cancer. These studies have involved as many as 946 hospitals from over 25 BIG collaborative groups covering 44 countries at a time. Many of these studies have been practice-changing, including the trials that helped put aromatase inhibitors on the map or that led to major breakthroughs for HER2-positive breast cancer.
Since its creation the BIG network has been the initiator of studies asking questions with no commercial interest, but for which answers could lead to significant improvements for patients and society. When is it safe to give a short duration of treatment with an expensive drug? Which patients really need to be subjected to radiotherapy? How can young women with breast cancer still fulfill a wish to have children? These questions reflect those that are regarded as important by patients, healthcare systems and by society at large.
In 2013 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 in such cases, it is difficult for physicians to choose the best treatment path for individual patients.
AURORA, an innovative international programme dedicated to understanding metastatic breast cancer
Despite the fact that the overall breast cancer death rate has dropped steadily over the last decade and significant improvements in survival have been made, metastatic breast cancer represents the leading cause of cancer-related death among women. At the same time, there is an unprecedented opportunity to make more rapid progress, as ever more powerful technologies become available to analyse the molecular make-up of cancer cells. The more profoundly we are able to understand the mechanisms driving cancer development, the greater our chances are of identifying how to stop the disease.
In this context, BIG recently launched AURORA, an innovative metastatic breast cancer research programme.
Always keeping the patient at the heart of its activities, BIG follows strict principles of research conduct that aim to eliminate bias from the research process and to maintain integrity vis-à-vis patients. This is the case both when BIG partners with pharmaceutical companies or when BIG works alone. BIG ensures that data collected are handled and analyzed independently. Moreover, all BIG studies are governed by committees and policies embodying scientific independence and designed to safeguard patient interests at every step of the way.