The main objectives of TRANSBIG were:

  • to accelerate the way laboratory discoveries for breast cancer “translate” into treatments for patients (translational research)
  • to advance personalised treatment for breast cancer patients
  • to strengthen and facilitate collaboration in translational breast cancer research in Europe and internationally

TRANSBIG comprised a network of 40 world-class partner organisations from 22 countries, involving basic scientists, physicians, patient advocates, cancer societies and biotechnoloy specialists. The network was active for 7 years thanks to funding from the European Commission under Framework Programme VI (FP6), and is considered to be one of its Success Stories!

Under the guidance of Dr Fatima Cardoso, Dr Emiel Rutgers and Dr Martine Piccart, TRANSBIG developed several projects, some of which will leave a lasting mark in breast cancer research.


The main project launched under TRANSBIG is the MINDACT trial (Microarray In Node-negative and 1 to 3 positive lymph node Disease may Avoid ChemoTherapy). Sponsored and coordinated by the European Organisation for Research and Treatment of Cancer (EORTC), MINDACT involved more than 6,600 patients from 112 centres in 9 European countries.

The MINDACT study was designed to evaluate the utility of adding the 70-gene test (Mammaprint®) to the traditional method of assessing the likelihood of breast cancer recurrence for women with node-negative or 1-to-3 node positive breast cancer.


The results of MINDACT were anticipated to help doctors to determine which patients need adjuvant chemotherapy (i.e. treatment given after breast surgery) and which can be spared this additional treatment and its side-effects.

In total 6,693 patients were recruited to MINDACT, the first results of which were published in 2016 in the New England Journal of Medicine (link). The data showed that 46% of the early-stage breast cancer patients identified as high risk for recurrence based on traditional factors were identified as low risk when adding the MammaPrint test. The data demonstrated that chemotherapy provided no clinically meaningful benefit for these patients.

The MINDACT results give hope to many women with node-negative or 1-to-3 node positive early breast cancer: in future, it is possible that about half of the patients who would have received adjuvant chemotherapy in the past according to the traditional method of assessing recurrence risk might avoid this treatment and its side-effects.

An independent biorepository was set up by TRANSBIG under the responsibility of BIG and the EORTC. This biobank contains paraffin-embedded and frozen tumour samples, as well as blood and serum, from all consenting patients enrolled in MINDACT. These materials, together with the associated whole genome microarray raw data and the trial’s clinical data, constitute an invaluable resource for present and future research. It is available to researchers inside and outside the TRANSBIG Consortium. The policy for access to these samples is available here.

The TRANSBIG Traineeship Programme, coordinated by the European Cancer Organisation (ECCO) from 2010 to 2011, enabled 14 young researchers from around the world to acquire or develop knowledge and skills in the field of translational and clinical breast cancer research in TRANSBIG institutions throughout Europe.