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Günther Steger receives Roche Science Award

MedUni Vienna oncologist honoured for ABCSG-32 study into heart-friendly breast cancer treatment
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Bild: Roche

(Vienna, 29 September 2016) Günther Steger, oncologist at MedUni Vienna, has been awarded the Roche Science Award, presented on the occasion of the Roche Science Talks. The prize was awarded for his role as lead investigator in the ABCSG-32 study.

Although treating HER2-positive breast cancer with Doxorubicin in combination with Trastuzumab is highly effective, it can often trigger serious heart problems. Doctors are therefore looking for new efficient but less toxic treatment protocols.

Innovative treatment protocols
This is where the ABCSG-32 study comes in. In the neoadjuvant, multicentre Austrian Phase II study, Steger and his team investigated the cardiac safety of the combination of non-pegyltated liposome-encapsulated Doxorubicin (NPLD) and/or Bevacizumab in combination with the standard therapy of Docetaxel+Trastuzumab. An important secondary study aim was to evaluate the pathological complete remission rate (pCR), that is to say the complete disappearance of all cancer cells in the breast and the total pCR (pCR in breast and axillary lymph nodes).

Positive results
The results are more than positive: All tested treatment protocols proved to be practicable and safe for the neoadjuvant treatment of early HER2-positive breast cancer. Moreover, cardiotoxicity was low in all four therapy arms; although non-cardiac toxicities were slightly higher for the experimental protocols, they were acceptable. In the hormone receptor-negative disease, pCR and the total pCR rates for DHB, DHN and DHNB were 60 – 88%.
This shows that DHN and DHNB are very suitable for future Phase-III evaluation, especially for the hormone receptor-negative disease.

The Roche Science Award
The Roche Science Award has been awarded for the first time this year and is intended to recognise independent research projects funded by Roche. It was presented at the Roche Science Talk on 8 September. The purpose of the prize is to recognise innovative capability and a clearly identifiable benefit to patients. It is hoped that the award will serve to encourage and maintain the expertise of national researchers, whose commitment has made Austria one of the leading research centres in Europe.

About Günther Steger
Günther Steger completed his medical studies at the Medical Faculty of the University of Vienna in 1985. In 1991, he completed his specialist training in internal medicine and internistic oncology. Following a research placement at UCLA School of Medicine, he qualified as assistant professor at MedUni Vienna's Department of Medicine I in 1993. Since then, Steger has also headed up the Department's breast-cancer outpatient clinic. Furthermore, he founded the cytokine laboratory at the Department of Medicine I (1986), has headed up the Working Group's oncology laboratory (since 1990) and is the Division's programme director for "Adjuvant Therapies" and "Predictive Factors". Alongside his clinical commitments, Steger is also very active as a researcher: he has worked on numerous studies in the capacity of national-coordinating investigator, lead investigator and co-investigator.
He is the recipient of many awards and prizes and is a member of various national and international associations.