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New Diagnostic and Therapeutic Approaches to Eradicating Recurrent

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Technical Report,01 Sep 2017,31 Aug 2018

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The Brigham and Womens Hospital, Inc. Boston United States

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Some breast cancer patients have no evidence of metastatic disease when they are first diagnosed, yet many patients later return to the clinic with cancer that has spread throughout the body. It is thought less than 1 of the cells that disseminate are able to form overt tumors. The reasons why certain disseminated tumor cells remain inconsequential and others form life-threatening tumors after long periods of time are unknown. During the past year, support from the Era of Hope Scholar Award enabled us to continue progress on 3 fronts. First, we continued our work using sensitive new technologies to tag individual tumor cells, each with its own unique label, and trace the individual cells in our breast cancer metastasis models. Our detection methods are enabling us for the first time to isolate and study the consequential cells those that formed metastases. Second, we have uncovered novel mechanisms by which disseminated tumor-initiating cells are affected by bone marrow derived immune cells to either remain dormant or form aggressively growing tumors. In this area, we discovered that bone-modulating drugs, bisphosphonates, render bone marrow cells tumor suppressive. Third, we continued testing and published our findings that bisphosphonates inhibit bone metastases via previously unknown mechanisms. By distinguishing consequential from inconsequential breast cancer cells, and finding new ways to target the most malignant cells, we hope to provide a foundation for future work to determine whether the disseminated tumor cells isolated from breast cancer patients have similar features. Success in these endeavors would mean that breast cancer patients harboring potentially life threatening disseminated tumor cells could be identified and treated before they experience disease relapse.

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  • Medicine and Medical Research

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