Breast cancer, new therapies to reduce the risk of recurrence: the study by the Unipa team

The recent research published in the well-known journal Nature Communications is the result of a multidisciplinary collaboration between numerous national and international universities and institutions. In particular, the research group of the University of Trento, coordinated by Professor Alessio Zippo and that of the University of Palermo led by Professor Matilde Todaro, together with the researcher Alice Turdo and the post-Doc Caterina D’Accardo of the Promise Department and the researcher Miriam Gaggianesi of the MePreCC department, have developed a preclinical model that mimics the onset and dissemination in secondary organs of breast cancer cells which, due to their “dormant” phenotype, are able to survive in an unfavorable environment and escape anti-inflammatory immune surveillance. -tumor. This study lays the foundations for the development of new therapies aimed at reducing the risk of recurrence in patients with breast cancer.

“Breast cancer is the most frequently diagnosed neoplasm and the leading cause of oncological death in women worldwide – explain the research team -. Although in Italy almost 60 thousand new cases were diagnosed in 2023, thanks to early diagnosis and the effectiveness of treatments, the five-year survival rate of breast cancer patients reaches approximately 87%. On the contrary, tumors diagnosed at an advanced stage are less susceptible to traditional therapies and are often associated with recurrences within two years after diagnosis. Furthermore, approximately 20% of patients with a localized tumor sensitive to hormone therapy have a reappearance of the disease at 15 years. This phenomenon is responsible for minimal residual disease, caused by the presence of “dormant” disseminated tumor cells to colonize in distant organs and persist in a latent state before giving rise to metastasis. Numerous studies have highlighted that the adaptation of tumor cells to external stimuli, through epigenetic reprogramming, plays a central role in the progression of cancer. and in the formation of metastases”.

“Thanks to the experience acquired over the years by our group in preclinical research, we have recreated a model that mimics the onset and metastatic progression of breast tumors in order to study the role of disseminated cells, responsible for minimal residual disease – declares Miriam Gaggianesi of the MePreCC department – ​​The possibility of being able to characterize these cells at a molecular level could lead to the development of personalized therapies”.

“One of the main causes of the reappearance of the disease is the inability of the immune system to recognize and therefore hinder the spread of tumor cells present in the metastatic organ – declare doctors Alice Turdo and Caterina d’Accardo (Promise department) – The possibility being able to enhance immunosurveillance is in fact one of the new frontiers in the panorama of anti-tumor therapies”.

“The multidisciplinary collaboration between various national and international groups from Australia, Canada, America, Spain and Italy represents an important step forward in the study and control of metastases – underlines Professor Matilde Todaro of the Promise department -. This study, the result of joint effort of researchers from different disciplines has contributed significantly to the understanding and management of dormant breast cancer metastases. The contribution of young researchers has been fundamental in this process and their enthusiasm has enriched the research. leading to new perspectives and innovative solutions. Thanks to their openness to collaboration and sharing of knowledge it has been possible to overcome the complex challenges related to the study of dormant metastases, it is essential that researchers from different disciplines work together , integrating their skills to effectively address the problem. This synergy between experts has made it possible to take a significant step towards the defeat or control of metastases, offering new hope in the fight against metastatic breast cancer.” Funding from Airc projects was used to conduct the study.

Source: PalermoToday