Triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC) is the most aggressive type of breast cancer and is associated with poor long-term survival. Treatment options for TNBC are limited and rely on conventional chemotherapy and radiation, often inefficient to prevent metastasis and recurrence, thus, identifying efficacious targets for therapy and biomarkers that stratify patients with TNBC represents an urgent medical need. Combining checkpoint immunotherapy—which acts on T cells activity—and chemotherapy has increased survival for some TNBC patients, but still doesn’t work for the majority. Tumor-associated macrophages correlate with worse outcomes when found in TNBC tumors. Therefore, Dr. Poissonnier is exploring whether targeting this immune subset might be able improve the effectiveness of immunotherapies.
Previously, her team showed that targeting tumor macrophage-associated pathways can improve treatment responses and overall survival in mice with TNBC-like tumors by enhancing the activity of “killer” T cells. Now, Poissonnier aims to further enhance the cancer-killing activity of these T cells by reprogramming their epigenetics, which controls whether certain genes are turned “on” or “off.” In addition to the potential for clinical translation, her work will also provide a preclinical platform that could be used for the discovery of biomarkers that could help doctors predict who is likely to respond to these approaches—both of which could ultimately help improve outcomes for patients in the clinic.
Projects and Grants
Relieving Immune Suppressive Pathways in Breast Cancer to Improve Outcomes
Oregon Health & Science University | Breast Cancer | 2020 | Lisa M. Coussens, Ph.D.
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