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23andMe attended LBBC’s metastatic breast cancer conference to spread the word and recruit women to the web-based InVite study. InVite is a collaborative effort between 23andMe and Genentech to understand how genes influence response to bevacizumab (also known as Avastin®) in the treatment of metastatic breast cancer. Women who were on bevacizumab for metastatic breast cancer at any point in 2010 or 2011 are eligible for the study. Enroll at https://www.23andme.com/invite-study/ or email [email protected] for more information.
Patient and Physician Stories
The conference started with an inspiring testimonial by Pat Biedermann who has been fighting stage IV breast cancer for a number of years. She described how one of her first signs of metastasis was a cracking sound in her spine as she teed off on a golf course. Pat’s “tricks and tips” on living with the disease can be found on LBBC’s blog.
There was some discussion of the role of genetics in breast cancer. Although breast cancer can be strongly influenced by genetics — mutations in the BRCA genes are associated with a lifetime risk of about 50-60% — most cases are “sporadic”, meaning that the patient has no blood relative affected by the disease.Breast cancer also comes in different forms and it’s becoming clear that it’s important to find out which kind you have because it can impact the course of treatment. For instance, many therapies aren’t effective in treating triple-negative breast cancer, which by definition is estrogen receptor-negative, progesterone receptor-negative, and HER2-negative. Since triple-negative cancers don’t display the receptors that most drugs target, it can be challenging to find a drug that will work for them.The panelists also discussed how genetics can sometimes explain why some people respond well to a drug whereas others may experience serious side effects. This was of particular interest to 23andMe because we not only offer our customers reports on how their genetics might influence responses to different drugs but also perform research to understand these genetic responses. Our research into this area includes antidepressants, commonly used medications, and now bevacizumab in breast cancer as part of the InVite study (see sidebar).
Living beyond breast cancer pretty much sums up the goal of the conference attended by 23andMe employees including InVite Project Lead Dr. Kimberly Barnholt. “It was inspiring to meet such knowledgeable and empowered women at the LBBC conference,” she said. “We are excited to partner with this community of active and passionate individuals to explore innovative approaches to research that will hopefully lead to better treatments and maybe even an eventual cure for breast cancer.”