Background: Breast cancer (BC) is the most frequent tumor in women worldwide. BC lethality is caused by aggressive, therapy-resistant metastases (mBC). Preliminary data have shown that mBC lesions are invariably embedded into a densely packed network of fibrous extracellular matrix, making the metastatic microenvironment a potent inducer of mechanical inputs, ultimately leading to the activation of the transcription factors YAP/TAZ. Aberrant mechano-signaling could thus represent a vulnerability of metastasis, which can be exploited to develop new therapeutic strategies. To investigate how metastatic outgrowth is regulated by the physical properties of the microenvironment, and how the altered mechano-transduction of human BC metastasis can be exploited to define new unconventional therapies, we designed and activated METAMECH, a Master Observational Trial (MOT). MOTs are trial constructs hybridizing a canonical observational trial with a multiplex sample-collection platform, aimed to empower the bi-directional collaboration between pre-clinical and clinical research, an essential prerequisite to feed and implement precision oncology. Methods: METAMECH (IFOM-CPO007/2019/PO006) is a MOT that will follow a stage-mixed cohort of at least 500 BC patients throughout their course of treatments, until death or a minimum of 5 years. METAMECH has been designed to streamline the study of the co-evolutionary landscape between tumor and host cells across all BC subtypes. METAMECH is a resource for integrative clinical and imaging data and fresh and archival sample collection which will allow to auction mechanotransduction mechanisms supporting the outgrowth of human metastases, mine for new potentially actionable targets and permit the selection of appropriate patients for mechano-biology experimentally-driven trials. METAMECH is a multi-tiers research scaffold that will allow to integrate the clinical and basic aspects of the project, to optimize patients enrollment and the logistic of longitudinal collection of theirs data/samples. A customized data lake is being designed for data storage, analysis and retrieval. To facilitate patients access, METAMECH has been designed as a flexible infrastructure organized in TIERS, which allow to pursue different objectives: TIER0/1, Retrieving/Recording: to retrospectively and prospectively access to selected cohorts of clinically annotated BC samples to validate/discover mechanotransduction-linked biomarkers and create a mechano-classifier; TIER2, Modelling: to develop pertinent experimental models to study the aberrant mechanisms underlying the metastatic outgrowth and define mechanotransduction-targeting therapeutic strategies; TIER3, Linking: to access data and samples of patients enrolled in Proof-of-Concept trials to prove the efficacy and study/understand resistance mechanisms of mechanotransduction-targeting therapies.

Citation Format: Paolo Luraghi, Luca Lazzari, Maria Vittoria Dieci, Serena Bellani, Chiara Soffientini, Rosario Rizzuto, Antonio Rosato, Vincenzo Costanzo, Giorgio Scita, Giannino Del Sal, Massimiliano Pagani, Marco Foiani, Claudio Tripodo, Silvio Bicciato, Giovanni Blandino, Alberto Zambelli, Valter Torri, Matteo Fassan, PierFranco Conte, Silvia Marsoni, Stefano Piccolo. METAMECH -A Master Observational Trial empowering mechanobiology translational research and mechanobased proof of concept trials in breast cancer [abstract]. In: Proceedings of the Annual Meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research 2020; 2020 Apr 27-28 and Jun 22-24. Philadelphia (PA): AACR; Cancer Res 2020;80(16 Suppl):Abstract nr CT261.