Immunotherapy is revolutionising cancer treatment, particularly for diseases such as melanoma, however, it is yet to make a substantial impact on the management of other deadly cancers such as advanced breast cancer. It’s something A/Prof Swarbrick and his team hope to change, with early studies showing some promising insights.
“Our study aims to develop new immunotherapy strategies for metastatic breast cancer, thereby reducing the mortality of this disease.
“We’ve analysed individual cells in patient tumour samples to gain unprecedented insights into what makes up a tumour, allowing us to identify subtypes of cells and investigate their role in disease.
“This is significant because immunotherapy— which is designed to activate the patient’s immune system against a tumour—has limited response in many patients with triple negative breast cancer. “If the cancer is suppressing the immune response in triple negative breast cancer, and we can stop this, the immune system is more likely to attack the cancer.
“This research is showing us that what we once thought of as one cell type is in reality a diversity of cell types, which will have a significant impact on how we tailor treatments in future.”
This discovery could be a game-changer for the most aggressive breast cancer types, like Bianca’s, where survival rates are lower.
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