University of Southern California
Los Angeles, California
Assistant Professor of Medicine/Oncology
American Association of Cancer Research
Reducing immune suppression to improve immunotherapy in breast cancer.
Immunotherapy works by re-training the immune system to fight cancer. This type of therapy holds great promise to help people with breast cancer live longer with fewer side effects from ongoing therapy or progressive disease. Cancer cells, however, send signals to suppress the immune system, thus preventing tumor elimination. Eventually, the lack of immune response enables tumor growth and, in many cases, spread. Dr. Roussos Torres seeks to decrease immune suppression so that approved immune checkpoint inhibitors (ICIs) can be more effective in breast cancer. She has shown in breast cancer laboratory models that combining an immune suppressor drug called entinostat with ICIs improves response to immunotherapy in patients with advanced breast cancer.
Dr. Roussos Torres is now working to understand how entinostat and ICIs work together to improve treatment response. For her AACR award supported by BCRF, she will investigate how entinostat affects gene production that is known to play a role in the suppressive function of myeloid derived suppressor cells, one of the most abundant suppressive cell types in breast tumors. Then, she will study whether the combination of entinostat and ICIs has similar effects on other types of tumor-infiltrating immune cells. Outcomes from these studies may provide solutions to overcoming immune suppression and expand this class of cancer therapeutics in patients with breast cancer.
Evanthia Roussos Torres, MD, PhD received a BS in Microbiology, Immunology and Molecular Genetics and a BA in World Arts and Cultures with a concentration in Dance from the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA). She then went on to receive her combined MD/PhD from the Medical Scientist Training Program at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York. She then completed her internal medicine residency at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania and her hematology/ oncology fellowship training at the University of Pennsylvania and Johns Hopkins University. Dr. Roussos Torres graduated from fellowship and began her faculty career as an Assistant Professor at Johns Hopkins University and is now an Assistant Professor at the University of Southern California where she leads her own lab and works collaboratively with other physicians and physician scientists to continue her work in immune-oncology with a specific interest in breast cancer and the tumor immune suppressive microenvironment.
Dr. Roussos Torres is very passionate about her research as well as her care of patients with cancer and training of the fellows to become compassionate and knowledgeable physicians. She is driven to make memorable contributions to the field of cancer research given her personal experience advocating for her mother who died from metastatic breast cancer in 2016. Dr. Roussos Torres felt passionate about having an impact on the field of breast cancer prior to her mother’s diagnosis but learning about the devastation of metastatic disease as the family member of a patient provided a different perspective and drive for novel treatment options.
The Women's Cancer Research Fund Award
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