Titles and Affiliations

Director, Breast Service, Department of Radiation Oncology
Associate Professor, Radiation Oncology, Harvard Medical School
Massachusetts General Hospital
Boston, Massachusetts

Research area

Testing the effect of radiation in combination with immunotherapy to prevent breast cancer recurrence.  

Impact

Despite significant advances in the management of breast cancer, mortality remains unacceptably high in some more aggressive forms of the disease. For breast cancer patients who remain at high risk for relapse with standard therapy, harnessing the immune system prior to surgery has the potential to induce a lasting anti-tumor immune response, and improve outcomes. Thus far, immunotherapy in the pre-operative (neoadjuvant) setting has shown promise in triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC), yet many patients only achieve a partial response. Radiation alone can induce an immune response to the tumor, as dying tumor cells release immune-stimulating components and it may therefore be a valuable addition to immunotherapy. Dr. Ho and colleagues initiated P-RAD, a clinical trial offering combination pre-operative radiation therapy (RT), immunotherapy and pre-operative chemotherapy treatment for TNBC or hormone receptor-positive/HER2-negative breast cancer patients who have a high risk of disease recurrence. 

What’s next  

This study will enroll 96 patients, with the goal of finding the safest, minimum dose of RT required to ultimately make immunotherapy and chemotherapy more effective. It will also study the effects of the therapy on patient quality of life and investigate potential biomarkers, using blood and tumor samples to be able to identify which patients are most likely respond to this therapeutic strategy. 

Biography

Alice Ho, MD, MBA is Director, Breast Service in the Department of Radiation Oncology at Massachusetts General Hospital and an Associate Professor of Radiation Oncology at Harvard Medical School. Her clinical practice focuses solely on the treatment of breast cancer patients, and as a physician investigator her research focuses on identifying opportunities for enhancing outcomes in high-risk breast cancer patients by combining radiation with rational, biologically-focused therapies such as immunotherapies and DNA repair-based agents to improve the efficacy of radiation.  

Nationally, Dr. Ho serves as an expert member of the Breast Cancer Committee for Society for Immunotherapy of Cancer, and she has also served as a panel member in the development of several national and international consensus statements and guidelines for radiation therapy for breast cancer through ASTRO and ASCO. She is deeply committed to teaching residents and fostering educational initiatives, serving as an academic mentor to numerous trainees and serving as a member of the Harvard Medical School Admissions Committee. Dr. Ho received her MD, MBA from Tufts University School of Medicine and completed residency training in Radiation Oncology at Mount Sinai Medical Center.  

BCRF Investigator Since

2020

Areas of Focus