We study how breast cancer spreads (‘metastasis’) through axillary (armpit) lymph nodes (ALN). Functionally, ALN balance between activating anti-cancer immunity (helpful) or dampening it, which facilitates metastasis (harmful) – but we don’t fully understand what regulates this switch. Thus, some patients are overtreated because we cannot confidently identify helpful ALN before surgery (‘stratify risk’) while other patients do badly because their immune response never reactivates (‘hard-to-treat’).
We investigate this cancer-immune switch in patient-derived tissue because we believe that human models produce translationally relevant data, accelerating discovery.
Our over-arching goal is to identify preventative biomarkers and novel, druggable targets of ALN metastasis.