Innate immune responses regulating breast cancer metastases is a Research Project for the Regulation of Interferon and Innate Signalling Research Group, under the Centre for Innate Immunity and Infectious Diseases.

Project Leaders

macrophage and bacteriaThe mechanisms that regulate the process of metastases of breast cancer to distant organs such as lungs and bone are not understood, and accordingly the treatment of this disease process and prognosis for metastatic disease are both poor. Our studies use a murine model of breast cancer metastasis in collaboration with Dr B Parker at the Latrobe Institute of Molecular Sciences. We have compared primary and metastatic cancer cells by gene expression microarrays to determine the genes and their regulatory pathways that are activated or suppressed. This has led to the discovery of a novel epithelial innate immune pathway that is suppressed in metastases; the reversal of which reduces bone metastases significantly and increases metastases-free survival. Ongoing studies include determining the mechanisms of suppression, the effector molecules that block the metastatic process, the role of the immune response in regulating this process and clinical studies of these pathways in human samples.

This research, published in Nature Medicine 2012 Aug: 18(8): 1224), will potentially lead to new diagnostics and adjunct therapeutics.