Elizabeth M. Jaffee, MD, FAACR, FACP
Dana and Albert “Cubby” Broccoli Professor of Oncology
Deputy Director, The Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center
Co-Director of the Gastrointestinal Cancers Program
Johns Hopkins University
Developing methods to optimize the use of immunotherapy for the treatment of metastatic breast cancer.
Immunotherapy utilizes the power of a patient’s immune system and offers new promise for some breast cancers. Although newer immune therapies that target the PD-1/PD-L1 pathway have improved breast cancer outcomes for some patients with advanced breast cancer, most do not benefit from these agents. Understanding which patients benefit—why some do, and others do not—is key to their broader clinical benefit. While PD-L1 is a clinically relevant biomarker of immune activation across at least two subtypes of advanced breast cancer, studies showed that the tumors lose their immune reactivity as breast cancer progresses. Dr. Jaffee and Emens are examining the expression of PD-L1 and other immune markers in breast cancers that have metastasized to determine whether the profile of immune markers is different at different sites of metastasis. The results of their studies will provide valuable insights to inform treatment decisions and optimize the use of immunotherapy for treating metastatic breast cancer patients.
Previous clinical trial results showed that targeting PD-1/PD-L1 could provide durable clinical responses in small numbers of advanced breast cancer patients. However, it remains unclear how immune biomarkers change as the disease progresses Therefore, the team has collected a series of matched primary and metastatic breast cancer samples to determine how the immune environment evolves during progression from the primary breast cancer to different sites of metastases.
Drs. Jaffee and Emens will continue to analyze several immune biomarkers (including PD-1/PDL-1) in this set of matched primary and metastatic breast tumors. By comparing these samples, they hope gain a deeper understanding of how the expression of immune biomarkers varies with disease progression or correlates to breast cancer metastases at different sites.
Dr. Jaffee is an internationally recognized expert in cancer immunology and pancreatic cancer. She is Deputy Director of the Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center at Johns Hopkins, Co-Director of the Skip Viragh Pancreatic Cancer Center and Associate Director of the Bloomberg Kimmel Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy. Her research focus is on developing novel immunotherapies for the treatment and prevention of pancreatic cancer. Dr. Jaffee is a Past President of AACR. She has served on a number of committees at the National Cancer Institute including co-chair of the Blue Ribbon Panel that provided scientific advice to Vice President Biden’s Moonshot Initiative. She currently serves as chair of the National Cancer Advisory Board and Chief Medical Advisor to the Lustgarten Foundation for Pancreatic Cancer Research. She is the inaugural Director of the new Convergence Institute at Johns Hopkins. She was recently elected to the National Academy of Medicine and is a Fellow of the American College of Physicians.
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