Research projects

Using AI to predict drug resistance mutations in breast cancer

Researcher
Dr Anne Vincent-Salomon
Project period
Feb 2022 - Aug 2024
Country
Research Institute
Institut Curie, PARIS
Cancer types
Breast cancer
Award amount
£115,133

Project aim

Dr Anne Vincent-Salomon and her team with the inspiring help of Professor’s Bidard and Walter at Institut Curie are developing an artificial intelligence tool that could be used to predict which patients are going to develop genetic mutations that make them resistant to treatment.

Hope for the future

Breast cancer is the most common cancer in women worldwide, with an estimated 2.3 million women diagnosed 2020. Hormone therapies are a common treatment for breast cancer and can be very effective for some patients, however some people can develop resistance to treatment.

Dr Anne Vincent-Salomon and her team are developing a new tool that uses artificial intelligence to predict resistance mutations before they even occur. They are training their tool using images of breast tumours to identity characteristics of the tumours that can predict resistance. This tool could help improve the clinical decision making for breast cancer patients by helping doctors to identify people who are likely to develop resistance to a treatment. These patients could then be offered tailored treatment options that would be more effective for their individual cancer.

 

Image of breast cancer tissue

Meet the scientist

Beyond being a breast pathologist, Dr Anne Vincent-Salomon is a mom of 3 and a passionate hiker. She loves being outdoors, hiking in the South of France or in Corsica, and in the streets of Paris.

The science

Around 70% of breast cancers are diagnosed as ER-positive, which means that the cancer cells produce too much of a protein called the oestrogen receptor and become dependent on the hormone oestrogen to grow. Therapies that target this dependence on oestrogen, such as aromatase inhibitors, are a common treatment for this type of breast cancer but some people can develop resistant to treatment over time. Research has shown that one way this resistance develops is due to mutations to a gene called ESR1, which seem to emerge in response to treatment with aromatase inhibitors.

Dr Anne Vincent Salomon and her team are studying whether there are characteristics of breast tumours that are visible prior to treatment, which could be used to predict who will develop mutations to the ESR1 gene, and even predict who will develop resistance to treatment. The team will use images captured from thin slices of tumours donated from breast cancer patients to train a deep learning artificial intelligence tool. They hope that this tool will identify predictive characteristics of breast tumours that will be able to improve how patients are treated in the future.

I have a personal family history of breast cancer and cannot get used to the huge number of women affected by this disease. All my efforts are dedicated to a better understanding of this disease.
Dr Anne Vincent-Salomon

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