Using Human Immune Responses to Create a New Model for Breast Cancer Therapies
Joann Sweasy, Ph.D., Professor of Therapeutic Radiology
Co-funded by the Yale Cancer Center and the Maximilian E. & Marion O. Hoffman Foundation Inc.
Existing model (animal) systems for studying human breast cancer utilize therapeutic agents and human tumors, yet they do not consistently predict patient outcomes. Dr. Sweasy has hypothesized that this reduced translation from model systems (e.g. using the mouse) to human biology is likely because female animals are often not used and because models do not replicate the human immune system, which affects tumor growth and responses to cancer therapies.
Highlighted Study Findings
In this ongoing funded study, Dr. Sweasy (in collaboration with Dr. Richard Flavell who developed the “humanized” mouse model) is developing a model system of breast cancer that simulates the human immune system’s responses to therapies more closely than existing models. Preliminary findings show that immune compromised mice reconstitute very well with a human immune system, and ionizing radiation in combination with a human immune system acts synergistically in the control of human breast tumors. These preliminary data represent steps toward providing a new way of enabling creation of “personalized” breast cancer treatments to improve outcomes for women treated for breast cancer.