Dr. Steffi Oesterreich Receives METAvivor Grant to Study ILC

On January 11, 2021, Lobular Breast Cancer Alliance Scientific Advisory Board Past Chair Steffi Oesterreich, PhD, was the recipient of a translational research award  from METAvivor Research and Support Inc. The Metavivor Facebook Fundraisers Present grant will fund her invasive lobular breast cancer (ILC) research on “Targeting mesothelial – tumor cell interaction to treat invasive lobular cancer metastases.”

Members of the Lobular Breast Cancer Alliance including Executive Director Laurie Hutcheson and Lead Research Advocate Julia Katherine Levine wrote a letter in support of this grant application and will support Dr. Oesterreich’s research as patient advocates.

In their letter, Hutcheson and Levine wrote that Dr. Oesterreich “has proposed an original hypothesis that mesothelial cells may contribute to creating an environment within which ILC cancer cells, in particular, thrive. We are very hopeful about her proposal to study not only the interactions between ILC and mesothelial cells that may produce this result, but to also test drugs that may disrupt the processes and reverse the metastases.”

Hutcheson said, “We are excited by this grant award and so pleased to support this research. We are aware that there are many unmet needs in the metastatic lobular community, and that the tendency of ILC to spread to unusual sites presents unique and significant challenges for metastatic patients in diagnosis, imaging and treatment. This is such an important step toward a better understanding of the causes of, and how to prevent ILC recurrence.”

ILC is a distinct histologic subtype of breast cancer with unique biological features and disease behavior. While ILC is often associated with a good initial prognosis, recent retrospective analyses suggest that long-term outcomes of ILC may be worse. There are also fundamental differences between metastases in patients with ILC vs. invasive ductal carcinoma (lDC), particularly in metastatic sites. ILC metastasizes less frequently to liver and lung, and more frequently to unique sites such as ovary, peritoneum, bowel, and other gastrointestinal  and urogenital organs. The underlying reasons are unknown, and there are limited effective therapies once ILC has metastasized to these organs.

The LBCA wishes Dr. Oesterreich and her team much success with this new research project.