According to the World Health Organization, breast cancer is the most common type of cancer, affecting over 2.2 million people in 2020. It is the leading cause of death among women, with estimates suggesting that 1 in 12 will develop it in their lifetime. The treatment of breast cancer has seen significant advancements in recent decades due to early detection, new drugs, radiotherapy, and chemotherapy. However, there is still much ground to cover, particularly in cases of advanced breast cancer with metastasis, which, as of now, are incurable.
The introduction of CDK4/6 inhibitors has marked a turning point in the treatment of metastatic breast cancer, given their favourable toxicity profile and effective response. However, not all patients respond, and some eventually show disease progression. Furthermore, recent research into the mode of action of these inhibitors suggests a regulatory role in patients' immune response. CDKs (cyclin-dependent kinases) are proteins involved in tumour growth, hence the keen interest in finding effective ways to inhibit their activity. Within this framework, the collaborative InMaM project aims to meticulously characterise the immunomodulatory capacity of these drugs and their impact on tumour development.
Thus, the project's aim is to define and characterise the molecular mechanisms responsible for the immunomodulatory effects of the CDK4/6 protein inhibitors. This is with a view to provide a biological foundation for the development of treatment response biomarkers and new immunotherapeutic strategies.
To acheive this, the researchers from the InMaM project employ cutting-edge techniques to analyse gene activity at the single-cell level. This allows them to identify and characterise the effect of the CDK4/6 inhibitor treatment on the immune system and its regulatory pathways in patients. Through this analysis, they can identify potential biomarkers for treatment response, which, in turn, will also enable monitoring of disease progression and the antitumour response in the blood.
Additionally, the outcomes from this project will enable the development of new immunotherapy strategies and laboratory study models to conduct preclinical proof-of-concept tests, and to determine the efficacy of new drugs for their potential clinical use.