Triple negative breast cancer is so called because it lacks
molecular characteristics that are associated with response to modern
targeted treatments.


Christos Hatzis of Yale University, New Haven, CT, USA and colleagues have
described a new subtype of triple negative breast cancer that may be more
amenable to treatment than other cases of this difficult-to-treat
disease has been described

‘Patients with a newly-defined “BRCA deficient” subtype experienced better survival with chemotherapy. The findings suggest that immunotherapies might be tested in patients with triple negative breast cancer.’

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Hatzis and colleagues selected individual tumors
from patients who had exhibited either good or poor sensitivity to
cytotoxic chemotherapy, and characterized 29 cases of the disease by
whole exome sequencing, with validation in further groups of patients.

Patients with a newly-defined “BRCA deficient” subtype experienced
better survival with chemotherapy, and had a higher burden of mutations
and neoantigens that could be targeted by the immune system. Based on
these findings, the authors suggest that immunotherapies might be tested
in patients with BRCA deficient, triple negative breast cancer.

In a commissioned Perspective article, Mack Su and David Fisher of
Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, MA, USA discuss developments in
cancer immunotherapy, an area which has had a long history. During the
past decade there have been notable advances in the treatment of
melanoma, an aggressive tumor type which is increasing in incidence in
some populations.

Alongside development of drugs which target the BRAF
mutations that are common in melanoma, therapies have been discovered
that stimulate the immune response to tumors – blocking so-called
checkpoints, or inhibitors of the immune response. Su and Fisher
describe the potential for use of different combinations of immune and
targeted therapies and conclude that, as new immunotherapies are
developed and tested in different tumor types, “deeper mechanistic
insight will be required to inform clinical decisions.”

Source: Eurekalert



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