Expert Point of View: Harold Burstein, MD, PhD


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Harold Burstein, MD, PhD

Harold Burstein, MD, PhD

HAROLD BURSTEIN, MD, PhD, of Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Harvard Medical School, where he is Associate Professor of Medicine, commented on the SANDPIPER trial during a press briefing at the 2018 ASCO Annual Meeting. PIK3 mutations are probably the most common mutation in breast cancer, and their role in the growth, proliferation, and survival of tumors makes them a “very appealing” target, he indicated. It has been difficult, however, to “winnow out” this mutation and identify a targeted therapy that will show a benefit against it. 

Although the results of the SANDPIPER trial are disappointing, Dr. Burstein acknowledged, the study has value in showing that “we finally have a lock and a key that can open the door.” Unfortunately, the study also showed that “as soon as we open the door a little, we run into a ‘latch lock with a chain’—toxicity—that prevents that door from opening completely.” 

“The study is a modest step forward, but it importantly suggests we can effectively target the pathway,” Dr. Burstein concluded. “Hopefully, this gives us something we can build on, so we can use a targeted precision approach in this common subset of breast cancer.” ■

DISCLOSURE: Dr. Burstein reported no conflicts of interest. 


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