Prevention is a vital strategy in the fight against cancer, and Dr. Lee’s team is interested in combining chemoprevention and immunoprevention in fighting cancer. In their previous CPI-funded project, the Lee lab successfully repurposed the antiparasitic drug, ivermectin (IVM) to delay the development of breast cancer in mice. IVM is a safe and inexpensive anti-parasitic drug that has been used by over 700 million people worldwide for river blindness and lymphatic filariasis. Dr. Lee hypothesizes the mechanism of breast cancer inhibition is that IVM induces immunogenic cell death (ICD) of the cancer cells enabling the immune system to then attack the tumor. In this set of experiments, the Lee lab will evaluate if and how the immune system can be activated by IVM, and whether these anti-tumor immune responses can be used as biomarkers to monitor treatment efficacy. In addition to breast cancer cells, IVM can induce ICD of leukemia cells. Motivated by this observation, the Lee lab will also explore the potential use of IVM in the prevention of leukemia caused by Brca1-deficiency. They hypothesize that intermittent dosing of ivermectin may prevent BRCA1-associated leukemia by killing leukemia cells in an immunogenic manner, thus recruiting the immune system to then attack any remaining cancer cells.
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