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The project carried out by Sylvie Mader and her team receives the LeadAction|Breast Cancer du Sein grant

Published on July 22, 2020

By Fatéma Dodat

While the pandemic has highlighted the importance of supporting scientific research, IRICoR and the Quebec Breast Cancer Foundation (QBCF) have joined forces through their joint LeadAction|Breast Cancer Competition to accelerate breast cancer research work and develop additional therapeutic options for those affected by this cancer. The four Quebec recipients who will benefit from a total of 3 million dollars over three years were announced on July 14. One of the winning projects is the one headed by Sylvie Mader, Principal Investigator at IRIC, which seeks to counter resistance to treatment in breast cancer.

The projects relate to two major issues: understanding why certain types of breast cancer are treatment resistant and fighting these resistance mechanisms with new therapies or developing new treatments for aggressive types of breast cancer, such as triple-negative and HER2-dependent.

Sylvie Mader’s project targets the first issue, by aiming to develop oral antiestrogens optimized to induce a transformation of the estrogen receptor in hormone-dependent (ER+) breast cancers. To treat this cancer, antiestrogens that compete with the estrogen receptor or that lead to its degradation are used. Nevertheless, 30 to 50% of patients develop resistance to current therapies.

Sylvie Mader’s team has already underscored that modifying the estrogen receptor known as post-translational, SUMOylation, contributes to the efficacy of fulvestrant antiestrogen. This drug is used in the treatment of ER+ breast cancers that have progressed after hormonal therapy. As a result of this preliminary data, the research team will now work on developing new molecules to optimize this activity. The team headed by Anne Marinier, Principal Investigator and Director of IRIC’s Drug Discovery Unit, also collaborates on this research work. This innovative project will make it possible to better treat those affected by ER+ metastatic breast cancer.

Nadine Beauger, Ph.D., MBA, Chief Executive Officer of IRICoR, points out: “The LeadAction|Breast Cancer du Sein Competition provides an exceptional opportunity to support creative projects that will result in developing innovative therapeutic solutions for those suffering from breast cancer”.

The purpose of the other projects is to develop a new molecule comparable to vitamin D to fight triple-negative breast cancer (team headed by John White, Principal Investigator at the Lady Davis Institute, Jewish General Hospital), to block the addictions of cancerous tumors in order to destroy them (team headed by Jerry Pelletier, Principal Investigator at the Goodman Cancer Research Centre, McGill University), and to demystify the role of a protein responsible for the spread of triple-negative breast cancer (team headed by Anne-Marie Mes-Masson, Principal Investigator at the CHUM Research Centre).