Tapestry of Life


Launched in the Fall of 2015, The Metastatic Breast Cancer Project is lead by the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard. At the helm is Dr. Nikhil Wagle, MD, a breast cancer oncologist and researcher, and Corrie Painter, PhD, a cancer researcher, cancer patient  and patient advocate. This project has enrolled more than 2,000 patients from across the United States. The success of the enrollment has been credited by the use of social media and the involvement of several advocacy groups. It has enabled the project to recruit patients directly rather than engaging in contact with individual physicians and institutions that treat these patients.

Being able to work with patients directly through social media results in having access to tumor samples and medical information for biomedical research. This is a paradigm shift from the fact that most patients have never been asked if they would like to offer a tissue sample for research.  Working collaboratively with metastatic breast cancer patients and the community focuses on cutting edge genomic science with hopes of understanding and treating this disease.

Interested patients can enroll on the project’s website: http://www.mbcproject.org.  There is a 16- question survey about their cancer and treatment along with a consent form to allow researchers to obtain copies of their medical records. The consent also permits release of stored tumor tissue which undergo genomic analysis. Patients will also be asked to submit a saliva sample which can be accomplished by using at-home collection kit.

According to Dr. Wagle, the clinical data will be shared widely for other researcher to use. “It may not be my team that makes the next big discovery. We want other researchers to look at this, so that we can increase our chances of shared success,”  said Wagle.

I wanted to write this blog and share with others since I belong to several breast cancer groups on social media. I hope this further propels this incredible study to reach those living with metastatic breast cancer who may not have known about it.