Breast Cancer Tumor-immune Ecosystem

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This research team focuses on key areas that can help accelerate cancer research and advance the development of new anti-cancer treatments, particularly in breast cancer. Breast cancer affects one out of four women with cancer globally and one out of two female cancer patients in Qatar. The team has a specific interest in triple negative breast cancer (TNBC), constituting 15-20% of all breast cancer cases, which is characterized by an aggressive phenotype with higher risk of metastasis and relatively worse clinical outcome. Systemic treatment options for TNBC patients are currently limited to standard chemotherapy, which most often does not result in long-term responses. While immunotherapy has shown promising results in different cancers, some tumor types such as breast cancer do not respond to immune-based intervention and efforts are undertaken to unravel the mechanistic basis of resistance. The research focus is directed towards the identification of specific targets to hit and kill tumor cells and to overcome immunosuppression, in order to ultimately improve clinical outcomes of breast cancer patients.

In the area of tumor antigen discovery, the team seek to identify novel anti-cancer targets – with a focus on cancer testis antigens – that could be used in immunotherapy and/or could enhance clinical benefit with minimal off-target effects when targeted in combination with other treatment regimens.

Through research into the tumor-immune microenvironment, the team aims to uncover some of the cancer-cell intrinsic mechanisms that help shape an immune-unfavorable environment and may contribute to treatment resistance.

Latest Publications

  • Roelands J, Hendrickx W, Zoppoli G, Mall R, Saad M, Halliwill K, Curigliano G,Rinchai D, Decock J, Delogu LG, Turan T, Samayoa J, Chouchane L, Ballestrero A,Wang E, Finetti P, Bertucci F, Miller LD, Galon J, Marincola FM, Kuppen PJK,Ceccarelli M, Bedognetti D (2020). Oncogenic states dictate the prognostic andpredictive connotations of intratumoral immune response. J Immunother Cancer. 8(1). pii: e000617. doi: 10.1136/jitc-2020-000617.
  • Thomas R, Shaath H, Naik A, Toor SM, Elkord E, Decock J* (2020). Identification of two HLA-A*0201 immunogenic epitopes of lactate dehydrogenase C (LDHC): potential novel targets for cancer immunotherapy. Cancer Immunol Immunother. doi: 10.1007/s00262-020-02480-4.
  • Naik A, Monjazeb AM and Decock J* (2019). The obesity paradox in cancer, tumor immunology and immunotherapy: Focus on triple negative breast cancer. Front. Immunol. 10:1940. doi: 10.3389/fimmu.2019.01940.
  • Al-Khadairi G, Decock J* (2019). Cancer Testis Antigens and Immunotherapy: Where Do We Stand in the Targeting of PRAME? Cancers (Basel). 11(7).
  • Toor SM, Sasidharan Nair V, Decock J, Elkord E (2019). Immune checkpoints in the tumor microenvironment. Semin Cancer Biol. doi: 10.1016/j.semcancer.2019.06.021.
  • Al-Khadairi G, Naik A, Thomas R, Al-Sulaiti B, Rizly S, Decock J* (2019). PRAME promotes epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition in triple negative breast cancer. J Transl Med. 17(1):9. doi: 10.1186/s12967-018-1757-3.
  • 7. Thomas R, Al-Khadairi G, Roelands J, Hendrickx W, Dermime S, Bedognetti D, Decock J* (2018). NY-ESO-1 based immunotherapy of cancer: current perspectives. Front. Immunol. 9:947. doi: 10.3389/fimmu.2018.00947.