Study hints at new target to improve immune therapy in triple-negative breast cancer

IMAGE: Heide Ford, PhD, and University of Colorado Cancer Center colleagues show that Eya3 may regulate immune response to triple-negative breast cancer, potentially improving immunotherapies against the disease. view more 

Credit: University of Colorado Cancer Center

Therapies that recruit the immune system to attack tumors are revolutionizing cancer care. Among these successful immunotherapies is a class known as “checkpoint inhibitors” that unmask tumors’ ability to hide from the immune system. However, checkpoint inhibitors aren’t universally successful against all cancers. A University of Colorado Cancer Center study published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation unpacks the actions taken by an especially dangerous cancer type – triple-negative breast cancer – to initiate the process that eventually allows the cancer to become invisible to the immune system. By defining the roots of immune system evasion, researchers hope to develop therapies that could augment those currently in use, making the immune system an even more powerful partner in combatting cancer.

The story starts (or, technically, ends…) with a protein called PD-L1. Many types of cancer cells have learned to coat themselves in PD-L1, which is the “cloak” they use to hide from the immune system. The immunotherapies known as checkpoint inhibitors block the


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