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BCRF Grantee Since


Area(s) of Focus

Fabrice Andre, MD, PhD

Research Director, Head of INSERM Unit U981
INSERM (Institut National des Sciences et de la Recherche Médicale)
Associate Professor, Department of Medical Oncology
Institut Gustave Roussy
Villejuif, France

Current Research

SAFIR is a clinical and translational research program that aims to develop a method to individualize therapy selection for patients with metastatic breast cancer. In 2011-2013, Dr. André’s team completed the SAFIR01 trial, which included 423 patients and consisted of using the genomic analyses of metastatic samples to match appropriate targeted therapies for individual trial participants. With the clinical part of this project now complete, Dr. André and colleagues are starting the translational research, which includes analyses of the mutations and expression of the genes. The 2012-2013 funding has been used to perform sequencing of the samples. The 2013-2014 funding will be used to analyze genomic expression in the metastatic samples.

Mid-Year Summary

Although extensive analyses have been done on early, localized breast cancers, little is known about the molecular characteristics of metastatic relapses. Metastatic relapses are associated with a decreased life expectancy, and there is a need to better understand biology of this disease in order to propose new therapeutic strategies. Several preliminary works performed on leukemia, kidney cancers and breast cancers have suggested that the molecular portrait of metastases is different to the one of primary tumor. In order to better characterize and, eventually treat, metastatic relapse, Dr. André and colleagues have performed an extensive DNA analysis (whole exome sequencing) of the metastatic lesions from 83 patients. Seventeen genes have been identified as mutated in metastatic lesions. Interestingly, 12 of these 17 genes were not significantly mutated in primary tumors, suggesting that the genome of the cancer evolve from primary tumor to metastatic relapse. This study shows that the genome of the metastases dramatically differs to the one of primary lesions. During the next six months, the researchers will increase the number of samples sequenced, validate the new mutations using a different technology and evaluate whether these mutations could be found in a few cancer cells from the primary cancer.


Dr. Fabrice André is a medical oncologist who is currently the director of INSERM Unit U981, a laboratory dedicated to the development of personalized medicine. He is also full professor in the department of medical oncology at Institut Gustave Roussy in Villejuif, France. His main research topic is translational oncology and development of targeted agents in breast cancer.

He received his medical degree in 2002 and his PhD in biotechnologies in 2005. He spent one year as visiting assistant professor at the University of Texas, MD Anderson Cancer Center. He is a past recipient of Young Investigator and Career Development awards from the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO). He has published more than 100 peer reviewed papers, including papers in the New England Journal of Medicine, Lancet, Nature Medicine, Journal of Clinical Oncology, and Lancet Oncology, either as main or co-author.

He currently chairs a large team focused on the development of personalized medicine. His lab includes 50 employees working on basic sciences, bioinformatics, biotechnologies and clinical research, and he also is leading two large clinical programs: SAFIR and CANTO. The SAFIR program currently includes three different clinical trials on personalized medicine for breast cancer patients (SAFIR01, SAFIR02, and SAFIRTOR). CANTO is a prospective cohort that will include 20,000 women who presented with early-stage breast cancer and aims to identify predictive parameters for toxicity.