Originally created as the research component of NBCC’s Breast Cancer Deadline 2020® initiative, the Artemis Project® is an advocate-led collaboration of researchers and advocates that develops and implements research action plans to address overarching issues in breast cancer. The Artemis Project employs an innovative, mission-driven approach to strategic summits, catalytic workshops, and collaborative efforts of various stakeholders focusing on two areas:
Artemis Project participants are scientists, clinicians, advocates, and other stakeholders, who interact through an infrastructure maintained by NBCC that allows collaborations to thrive and progress rapidly. The first Artemis Project, begun in 2011, focused on primary prevention. A strategic plan for the development of an Artemis preventive vaccine was developed and is being implemented. Initial seed grants were awarded to identify vaccine targets and begin pre-clinical work, and regular meetings occur to assess progress and readjust plans. In 2020, NBCC’s plan was accepted by the NCI PREVENT program to help advance a Phase 1 clinical trial.
Artemis Project participants continue to discuss other primary prevention topics, such as exploring aspects of the microbiome and risk stratification.
In 2014, NBCC launched the first annual meeting for the Artemis Project for the Prevention of Metastasis. The initial focus has been understanding dormant disseminated tumor cells (DTCs). We know that DTCs can “wake up” and result in distant recurrence in some individuals as many as 20 to 30 years after their initial breast cancer diagnosis. Key questions addressed at Artemis include how we intervene and prevent these delayed and distant recurrences, either by targeting and killing them or by keeping them in a dormant state. Early Artemis seed grants have demonstrated some of the mechanisms by which DTCs evade the immune system. One focus of Artemis is on identifying unique cell surface architecture that might be targetable. Another area of study is on the microenvironment that DTCs persist in and how that influences dormancy. More recently, Artemis members have also focused on other novel mechanisms for preventing metastasis.
Since 2010, Artemis Project members have become a well-integrated group, collaborating throughout the year on many of the ideas stemming from the annual Artemis meetings.