The Joint Research Centre produces knowledge base on human-based methods for better breast cancer research
Why non-animal models? 'The problem we’re facing is that current breast cancer research is too reliant on animal models, mostly using rodents. But rodents provide a poor model for human diseases. We need therapies based on the patient and the clinical and molecular characteristics of the tumour', explains JRC scientist Laura Gribaldo.
Numbers sometimes say more than words: one woman in seven is at risk of developing breast cancer.
Breast cancer is now estimated to be the most frequently occurring cancer, accounting for 13,3% of all new cancer diagnoses during 2020 in EU-27 countries.
While important scientific breakthroughs have been made in the field of early detection and understanding of the molecular bases of breast cancer biology, further progress is needed to offer women more effective treatments with fewer side effects.
The study conducted by the JRC's EU Reference Laboratory for alternatives to animal testing (EURL ECVAM) involved an extensive review of scientific literature published from January 2014 to March 2019.
Scientists have identified 935 papers describing relevant non-animal models for breast cancer.
The JRC has gathered all these models in a unique knowledge collection, which is now freely available to the scientific community.
These models are based mainly on cells and tissues cultured in the laboratory (in vitro), computer modelling and simulation (in silico), or explanted cells and tissues taken from patients (ex vivo).
The JRC also published a factsheet on breast cancer burden in 2020 for EU-27 countries. It gives an overview of disease manifestation in the EU Member States.
In 2020, cancer estimates reveal that breast cancer accounts for 28.7% of all new cancers in women, with 355,457 new cases diagnosed and over 91,000 attributable deaths.