Skip to main content
Publications of the Week

TIM-3 Expression in Breast Cancer

By November 15, 2018No Comments

Read the Publication

This week we profile a recent publication in OncoImmunology from PhD student Samantha Burugu
(back row, 2nd from right) with the laboratory of Dr. Torsten Nielsen (back row, right) at UBC.

Can you provide a brief overview of your lab’s current research focus?

The Nielsen lab focuses on two types of cancers: breast cancer and adult sarcomas. Our work on breast cancer, the focus of the recent publication, is mostly translational research. To accomplish that, we make use of our large dataset of tumour tissues from breast cancer patients collected from different BC hospitals. We study the presence of biomarkers in tumours of breast cancer patients that can indicate a patient’s prognosis or response to certain therapies. My PhD thesis focuses on finding biomarkers of response to cancer therapies such as certain types of chemotherapy and immunotherapy. As we know, immunotherapy has drastically changed the landscape of cancer treatments (leading to the most recent Nobel Prize). Unfortunately, the majority of patients still do not respond to these treatments, which are expensive and can have serious side effect. That’s why we want to find biomarkers that can identify which patients will benefit or not from immunotherapy.

What is the significance of the findings in this publication?

TIM-3 is an immune biomarker that is currently targeted by new immunotherapy drugs. Our study reports the first large-scale evaluation of TIM-3 expression based on our examination of nearly 4,000 breast cancers from the province of British Columbia. We report that TIM3 is present in more than a quarter of patients with a basal-like breast cancer, an aggressive cancer type with no targeted therapy. The findings from our publication imply that patients with basal-like breast cancers can potentially be amenable to immunotherapies targeting TIM-3.

What are the next steps for this research?

Our next steps are to use breast cancer specimens from immunotherapy clinical trials to evaluate if the presence of TIM3 and other published immune biomarkers can predict which patients would benefit or not from immunotherapy.

This research was funded by:

This work was supported by the Canadian Cancer Society awarded to Dr. Torsten Nielsen. Samantha Burugu is a recipient of a studentship from the Fonds de recherche du Québec-Santé.

Read the Publication