Dr. Lee’s research focuses on understanding how the tumor microenvironment (TME) impacts host immune responses in cancer patients. His ultimate goal is to develop novel treatments to modulate the TME and restore/enhance immune function in cancer patients. The goal here is to develop a new approach that combines chemoprevention and immunoprevention of breast cancer by repurposing the antiparasitic drug, ivermectin (IVM). This drug is safe, inexpensive, commonly accessible and it has been used by over 700 million people worldwide for river blindness and lymphatic filariasis. Dr. Lee’s team recently observed that IVM induces immunogenic cell death (ICD) of breast cancer cells in vitro and inhibits tumor progression in vivo. Here, they hypothesize that intermittent dosing of IVM will prevent breast cancer by killing nascent cancer cells in an immunogenic manner, thus auto-vaccinating the host immune system to attack any remaining cancer cells. Their rationale is based on their pre-clinical studies demonstrating that IVM treatment reduces breast cancer tumor burden in mice and prevents tumor establishment after re-challenge. To build upon these results, they propose (1) to optimize IVM dosing regimens to prevent or mitigate breast cancer development, and (2) to determine efficacy of immune activation and toxicity of effective IVM regimens. If successful, this study will provide proof-of-concept for a novel combined chemo-immunoprevention approach against breast cancer via repurposing a low-cost, safe anti-parasitic drug.
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