Headlines & Helpful Information, Research, Dollars Making A Difference
By: Amanda Oberstein
Metastatic breast cancer (MBC), also called Stage IV or advanced breast cancer, is not a specific type of breast cancer, but rather the most advanced stage of the disease. MBC is breast cancer that has spread to other organs in the body, most commonly to the bones, lungs, liver and brain. Although MBC has spread to another part of the body, it is still considered and treated as breast cancer. For example, breast cancer that has metastasized to the brain is still breast cancer and is treated with breast cancer therapies rather than treatments for a cancer that originated in the brain. It is estimated that at least 154,000 people in the United States are living with MBC.
MBC is a diagnosis all people with breast cancer fear – especially metastatic disease that has spread to the brain. Metastasis to the brain is particularly troubling because treatments that work for the primary (original) breast tumor are often ineffective at treating breast cancer that has spread to the brain. Current treatment strategies for brain metastasis, which include surgery and radiation, only offer some improvements for most people, and often come with debilitating side effects.
Dr. Paula D. Bos, Ph.D, is determined to find scientific breakthroughs to help improve the length and quality of life for people living with metastatic disease. Through her research, Dr. Bos has met and come to admire an incredible group of breast cancer advocates. Their strength and tireless efforts to bring awareness and increase funding for MBC research incentivize her to find new discoveries.
Dr. Bos is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Pathology and member of the Massey Cancer Center at Virginia Commonwealth University. She and the members of her lab are dedicated to developing new treatment options for people with breast cancer who have developed metastatic brain tumors. Specifically, Dr. Bos is interested in how regulatory Treg (T) cells, a type of immune cell, help breast cancer cells thrive after they have spread to the brain.
T cells are found in both primary and metastatic breast tumors, and the number of T cells found in these tumors correlates with poor patient prognosis. These cells act as switchboard operators for different immune responses and can suppress the immune system’s action against cancer cells. In Dr. Bos’s preclinical studies, she was able to show that removing T cells from breast cancer tumors in the brain reduces the size of those tumors. Unfortunately, researchers have not yet developed a method to manipulate these cells in people without causing major side effects. Dr. Bos is going to change that. With her Komen funding, Dr. Bos is investigating how T cells help brain metastases grow and ultimately will develop new therapeutic interventions to treat people with brain metastasis.
Dr. Bos’s research is made possible by the generosity of people like you. Help us continue funding her research by donating at here. Are you in?
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