The focus of our work is on triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC), which is very aggressive and has a poor survival rate. We have recently discovered that TNBCs grow by releasing special proteins called cytokines. Cytokines act as beacons to attract immune cells to the tumour, helping the tumour to grow and spread.
Cytokines are usually secreted by immune cells to attract disease-fighting cells to a site of disease. However, abnormal cytokine secretion can promote inflammatory diseases like arthritis. Therefore, drugs that target cytokines have been developed. Based on our work, these drugs may provide powerful immunotherapy to fight TNBC.
The objective of our work is to confirm which cytokines are released from breast cancers and to determine which types of immune cells are attracted as a result. Using experimental models, anti-cytokine drugs are tested alone or in combination with other immunotherapies. This will help to identify immunotherapies originally designed to treat inflammatory diseases that are effective against TNBC. Repurposing these drugs for cancer could rapidly bring them into the cancer clinic, reducing time and cost and saving the lives of patients who previously had limited options.