Sidra Medicine to Host First Conference on Breast Cancer Immunotherapy


Sidra Medicine announced today that it is hosting the first international conference dedicated to breast cancer immunotherapy in Doha on the 13th and 14th of April 2015. Lead by International and local experts, the Breast Cancer Immunotherapy Conference (BRECIS) will focus on immunobiology and immunotherapeutic developments in breast cancer. It is being held in partnership with the Society for Immunotherapy of Cancer (SITC), the leading society in the field.

“We are proud to bring the world’s top researchers in breast cancer immunotherapy to Doha, several of whom are going to present their exciting data on recent findings as well as discuss the first clinical trials demonstrating the use of immunotherapy in breast cancer,” said Davide Bedognetti, the Director of Tumor Biology, Immunology and Therapy Section, Sidra  Medicine. “In view of recent successes of immunotherapy in cancers such as melanoma and kidney cancer, breast cancer immunotherapy is becoming a key focus for cancer researchers around the world, including here at Sidra Medicine.”

Immunotherapy uses a person’s own immune system to kill cancer cells by stimulating the immune system. It is currently considered a groundbreaking treatment for cancer1. While immunotherapy has been effectively used in the treatment of melanoma and prostate cancer, it is still considered highly experimental in breast cancer treatment.

Other topics on the agenda at BRECIS include the genetic risk factors of breast cancer in Arab populations; breast cancer control in Qatar; the prognostic and predictive role of immune biomarkers of response to cancer immunotherapy; and the description of novel immunotherapeutic approaches.

Breast cancer represents almost 30 per cent of all cancer cases diagnosed in Qatari women, and is the most common cancer in the country2. While the incidence of breast cancer in GCC countries is lower than in countries such as US and Europe, it is rising fast. Recent findings indicate that there is a unique pattern of the disease amongst the Arab population. Arab women diagnosed with breast cancer are about 15 years younger than those diagnosed in western countries (median age at diagnosis is 48 years in Arab population and 63 years in Europe and US)3. Secondly, while in Europe and the US, breast cancer is generally detected in early stages, in GCC countries it is diagnosed at advanced stages in about 58% of the patients; indicating that the disease seems to be more aggressive in the Arab population.

“The research team at Sidra Medicine is actively studying the immunobiology of breast cancer with the ultimate goal of developing more effective and personalized treatment. Along with other teams across the world, we are interested in understanding why and how immunotherapy works in some patients and not in others. The more dialogue and exchange of knowledge that we can have with our local and global counterparts, the stronger are our chances of creating more pathways to turning research into personalized treatment methodologies,” concluded Dr. Bedognetti.

BRECIS will feature experts from Sidra Medicine, Hamad Medical Corporation, Weill-Cornell Medical College in Qatar, Qatar Computing Research Institute, along with researchers from prestigious institutions such as John Hopkins University, Memorial Sloan Kettering, Heidelberg University, Jackson Laboratory, New York University and the University of Washington.

For more details about the BRECIS conference, full list of speakers and the agenda, please visit


  • Cancer Immunotherapy: Breakthrough of the Year for 2013. Science, 342(6165), 2013
  • Al-Madouj A, Eldali A, Al-Zahrani A:Ten-Year Cancer Incidence Among Nationals of the GCC States 1998–2007. Riyadh: Corperation Council States, 2011.
  • Chouchane L, Boussen H, Sastry KS. Breast cancer in Arab populations: molecular characteristics and disease management implications. Lancet Oncology, 14(10):e417-24, 2013