Dr. Tchou's has ongoing pre-clinical and clinical projects centered on breast cancer biology.
The focus of her pre-clinical studies is aimed at fine tuning the efficacy of T-cell based (chimeric antigen receptor or CAR T cell) immunotherapy in the treatment of triple negative breast cancer. As surgeons, we are uniquely positioned to collect fresh tumor samples and implanting them into NOD/SCID/IL-2 gamma chain-deficient (NSG) mice to create a tumor bank in mice. We have already developed several patient-derived xenografts (PDX) in these immunocompromised NSG mice so that we can define intrinsic tumor characteristics that may predict sensitivity or resistance to help select the most effective combination immunotherapy using our PDX NSG mouse tumor model as a platform to tailor treatment strategies. We will also use our PDX tumor model to define the effects of combination therapy (chemotherapy or immune checkpoints inhibitors) with CAR T cell based therapy on the tumor cells and the tumor microenvironment.
Dr. Tchou is currently leading a clinical trial to evaluate the safety and feasibility of adoptive transfer of autologous chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T cells to treat patients with metastatic breast cancer via intratumoral injection of CAR T cells genetically modified to target c-met, a hepatocyte growth factor receptor, which is often overexpressed in TNBC and other breast cancer subtypes. This work is performed in partnership with Dr. Carl June.
With her research team, she has assembled a large clinical database to include clinical data of all breast cancer patients treated at Penn between 1995 and 2013 to evaluate the effects off metformin use on clinical outcomes of these patients. This database is richly annotated with detailed clinical and demographic information for many more outcome studies for fellows, residents, and medical students interested using these data to address hypothesis driven clinical questions.