Cancer cells use immune checkpoint (IC) proteins to prevent immune cells from attacking. While IC inhibitors have revolutionized cancer treatment, relatively few patients show complete remission and IC inhibitors are not effective against every cancer type, such as breast cancer. This project aims to identify cancer drugs that make breast cancer more sensitive to IC inhibitors, which addresses a clear unmet medical need for patients with metastatic breast cancer, for whom there currently is no cure.
A clear need exists for a robust, affordable and fast model to study ICs as current cancer models fall short. We aim to develop our Patient-Derived Explant Culture (PDEC) system, in which intact tumor fragments are grown in a petri dish, into such a model. Importantly, we have already shown that immune cells in PDECs are similar as in the tumor and that we can activate these immune cells to kill the fragments. This unique, easy-to-adopt model will impact immuno-oncology studies worldwide.