The impact of sex hormones on breast cancer: humanizing mice to personalize prevention and treatment


Event details

Date and time 06.10.2020 12:1513:15  
Place and room
Speaker Dr Cathrin Brisken, SV / ISREC / UPBRI
Category Conferences - Seminars
Abstract :
A woman’s risk to get breast cancer and the course of her disease are affected by her reproductive history and exposures to exogenous hormone and endocrine disruptors. Therapeutics targeting estrogen receptor signalling have had a major impact on breast cancer survival and a key question is how additional pathways can be harnessed to personalize breast cancer therapy and prevention. Combining mouse genetics with innovative tissue recombination techniques, we established the sequential mode of action of reproductive hormones in breast development, with paracrine and cell-intrinsic mechanisms impinging on cell fate determination and oncogenic potential. However, substantial differences in mammary carcinogenesis between mice and humans and the lack of adequate models for the human disease hampered progress. We have overcome this hurdle by demonstrating that by grafting human breast cancer cells to the milk ducts of immunocompromised mice the cells recapitulate the disease process and conserve their hormone and drug sensitivities. Studies have been expanded to the human population level using breast tissue derived from a large cohort of women with different levels of circulating sex hormones exposure to discern factors determining hormone response with topology-based algorithms that we have developed. The implications for new preventive and therapeutic strategies will be discussed.

Short Bio :
Cathrin Brisken obtained MD and PhD in Biophysics from the University of Göttingen, Germany, did postdoctoral work at the Whitehead Institute, MIT, Cambridge, USA, and held appointments at the Whitehead Institute, the Cancer Center of the Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School and the Swiss Institute for Experimental Cancer Research. She was Dean of the EPFL Doctoral School and cofounded the International Cancer Prevention Institute. She has served on many international committees and advisory boards, currently including AACR Women in Cancer Research Council, International Breast Cancer Study Group Biological Protocol Working Group, Pezcoller Symposia Scientific Committee.

Practical information

  • General public
  • Free


  • School of the Life Sciences, SV


  • Dr H. Hirling, M. Mary


breast cancer nuclear hormone receptors intercellular communication intraductal xenograft models topological algorithms

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