Frequently Asked Questions
Answers to common questions about IU School of Medicine’s work in triple negative breast cancer research are available here.
Triple negative breast cancer tends to be more aggressive and spreads more rapidly than other types of breast cancer, and it disproportionately affects younger women. It also has a higher recurrence rate, and once it has returned, standard therapy is often ineffective. A real need exists to develop new therapies for triple negative breast cancer, and IU School of Medicine aims to fill that gap.
Triple negative breast cancer simply means that the cancer tests negative for the presence of all three known receptors: estrogen, progesterone and HER2. In other words, the cancer is diagnosed not by what causes it, but rather by what does not cause it. Without knowing the root cause of the cancer, researchers cannot develop targeted treatments designed to attack its unique vulnerabilities.
IU School of Medicine has invested heavily in facilities and talent, which has led to scientific and technological advancements that makes this a great time to tackle this disease. For example, genomic medicine enables researchers to read each tumor’s genetic blueprint and gather clues about the specific mechanisms it depends on to grow and survive. By analyzing the DNA of triple negative tumors, IU School of Medicine researchers hope to finally uncover what helps them flourish and develop precision therapies to interfere. In addition, physicians and scientists here are learning how to train the human immune system to mount its own defense against cancer cells. While still in its infancy, immunotherapy has the potential to be the most promising new therapy in a generation. IU School of Medicine faculty researchers believe the combination of genomically guided therapies and immunotherapies will allow for some types of triple negative cancers to be cured.
Resourced for Discovery
IU School of Medicine is uniquely resourced to advance meaningful research in triple negative breast cancer.
Precision Health Initiative
Brown Center for Immunotherapy
Breast Tissue Bank
IU School of Medicine is also home to the world’s only biorepository – or bank – of healthy breast tissue. The tissue is donated by selfless women without cancer who voluntarily undergo a breast biopsy. IU researchers are comparing healthy tissue from the bank to samples from women with triple negative disease to identify differences that may contribute to the growth of the cancer.