Researchers at Chris O’Brien Lifehouse have recently made an exciting breakthrough in triple negative breast cancer research. This study was supported by our donors and in collaboration with one of our research partners.
Around 15% of Australians diagnosed with breast cancer each year have the triple negative subtype. Currently, there are no targeted therapies to treat this cancer and keep it from spreading to other parts of the body.
This study, a collaboration with our research partner the Garvan Institute of Medical Research, involves ‘single cell sequencing’ of tumour samples. This innovative technique enables scientists to examine how thousands or even millions of individual cells operate within their microenvironment, to discover what makes a cancer resist treatment.
After sequencing over 24,000 individual cells from five samples, the team made an amazing discovery: what was once believed to be one cell type is actually four different sub-types. One sub-type in particular interacts with the body’s immune system in a way that can make immunotherapy – a common treatment for triple negative breast cancer – ineffective.
“This discovery alone will have a significant impact on patient outcomes in the future,” says Dr Mun Hui, Medical Oncologist and Research Fellow at Chris O’Brien Lifehouse. “Thanks to our donors, we are now closer than ever to developing better treatments that will ultimately save lives.”