Artemis Project®

The National Breast Cancer Coalition (NBCC) is dedicated to ending breast cancer through the power of grassroots action and advocacy.

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: 

  • Primary Prevention: How do we stop people from getting breast cancer in the first place? 
  • Prevention of Metastasis: How do we stop people from dying of breast cancer? 

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. 

Milestones

    • 2010: Launched an Advocate-Led Research Initiative, the Artemis Project. 

 

    • 2012: NBCC Begins to Award Seed Grants through the generous support of the Breast Cancer Fund of National Philanthropic Trust – Read more about the Artemis Project seed grants here.

 

    • 2012: NBCC Awards Seed Grant to Identify Possible Vaccine Targets for Preventive Vaccine – to Dr. Paul Spellman and Dr. Joe Gray of Oregon Health and Science University, to identify possible vaccine targets using existing and developing human genomic data within different breast cancer subtypes. The analysis generated a prioritized list of potential breast cancer-specific targets to be considered for incorporation into a preventive vaccine.

 

    • 2013: NBCC Awards Seed Grant to Investigate Candidate Viral Causes of Breast Cancer – to Dr. Paul Ewald, Professor of Biology and Director, Program on Disease Evolution at the University of Louisville, and Dr. Vladimir Belyi, Assistant Professor at the Cancer Institute of New Jersey, Robert Wood Johnson Medical School. The researchers took a systematic look through two sets of breast cancer genomes for evidence of infectious agents.

 

    • 2013: NBCC Awards Seed Grant to Identify Possible Vaccine Targets in DCIS Samples – to Dr. Gregory Hannon, Professor and HHMI Investigator at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, and Dr. H. Kim Lyerly, George Barth Geller Professor of Cancer Research, Duke University School of Medicine. To look for vaccine targets in DCIS samples and to evaluate the biology of human ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) through sequencing (RNAseq).

 

    • 2016: Pre-clinical Work begins for Artemis Project Preventive Vaccine – Keith Knutson, Professor of Immunology, College of Medicine, Mayo Clinic, began pre-clinical work on the Artemis Project preventive vaccine. These efforts have resulted in a preventive vaccine development plan presented to the Food and Drug Administration in 2018, with plans for a Phase I safety trial in 2022.

 

    • 2017: NBCC Awards Seed Grant to Investigate Adaptive Immune Recognition of Dormant Disseminated Tumor Cells – to Dr. Cyrus Ghajar, Director, Laboratory for the Study of Metastatic Microenvironments, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, and Dr. H. Kim Lyerly, George Barth Geller Professor of Cancer Research, Duke University School of Medicine, to determine whether the adaptive immune system can recognize and kill dormant disseminated tumor cells (DTCs), and if not, which aspect of DTC biology should be targeted to enhance T cell recognition.

 

    • 2017: Launched DNA.Land to Develop Large-Scale Genetic Database for Breast Cancer Research – NBCC partnered with the New York Genome Center to develop a large-scale resource to study breast cancer. The DNA.Land project, supported by an Artemis Project seed grant, asked women and men who participated in genealogy tests to answer questions about breast cancer, including family history. This genomic data, along with answers from the breast cancer questionnaire, developed by NBCC-trained advocates and researchers, will be used to develop a large-scale database that researchers can use to identify genetic variants that impact the risk and recurrence of the disease.

 

    • 2020: Artemis Project Preventive Vaccine Awarded Contract with NCI PREVENT Program – NBCC’s Artemis Project Preventive Vaccine was awarded a contract with the National Cancer Institute (NCI) as part of its competitive PREVENT Cancer Preclinical Drug Development Program. The PREVENT program is a peer-reviewed agent development program designed to support the pre-clinical development of innovative interventions and biomarkers for cancer prevention and interception towards clinical trials.

 

    • 2020: Independent Third-Party Assessment Published on NBCC’s Work Over the Deadline 2020 Campaign – While we knew the Deadline 2020 Campaign was powerful on many levels, we thought it would be beneficial to have a Third-Party Assessment of our work. The assessment confirmed the distinctive role NBCC plays in the breast cancer community: NBCC’s systematic understanding of research and development – including the connections among policy, scientific research, patient outcomes, and institutional structures – makes NBCC and its impact unique within the field of breast cancer research and advocacy. 

Read more about the Artemis Project in the reports from previous Artemis Project Meetings

Read previous reports