Press Releases | 2011

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Moffitt Cancer Center Offers Targeted Radiopharmaceutical Therapy

Nov 15, 2011

TAMPA, Fla. (Nov. 15, 2011) – Moffitt Cancer Center has one of the highest volumes in the country when it comes to offering a type of “liquid radiation” to patients with lymphoma or with cancer that has spread to their bones from their primary tumor. This method delivers radiation through the bloodstream to specifically target tumor cells.

Systemic Targeted Radionuclide Therapy bypasses normal tissues and delivers continuous low-dose rate exposure directly to the target cells, said Michael Tomblyn, M.D., M.S., chief of the Hematologic Malignancies and Radiopharmaceuticals Service at Moffitt and an expert in the highly specialized field of radiopharmaceuticals. “It takes radiation to the surface of tumor cells and into the environment in which they’re living.”

This targeted therapy has fewer long- and short-term side effects, Tomblyn added.

There were initially two radiation (or radionuclide) therapies for lymphoma and two for cancer that has spread to the bones from the primary tumor. Now there are dozens of new radiopharmaceuticals in clinical trials, including agents for lymphoma and for pancreas, lung and colorectal cancers, he said, noting a major neuroendocrine tumor trial will begin soon.

Tomblyn said there are more than 100 agents in clinical trials. “Almost every cancer you can think of is included.”

In addition, Moffitt will have a phase IV study for Alpharadin, which targets prostate cancer that has spread to the bone, by early next year, Tomblyn said. The results of the international Phase III trial were recently announced and showed a significant survival advantage compared to traditional supportive care. Everyone enrolled in the new study will get the active drug, which is not yet approved by the Food and Drug Administration, he said.

Moffitt treats more than 200 cases per year with these targeted therapies, Tomblyn said.

The FDA-approved agents currently used at Moffitt are Zevalin and Bexxar for non-Hodgkin lymphoma, and Quadramet and Metastron for cancer that has spread to the bone, according to Tomblyn.

“At Moffitt, we recently hired our own radiochemist,” he said, referring to Haibin Tian, Ph.D., who came here in March. “Within the next year, we are going to be able to create our own radionuclides.”

Tian, the director of PET Radiochemistry, said he collaborates with many faculty members at Moffitt. “If we have a lot of radiopharmaceuticals that are FDA approved, it’s good for patients.”

Tomblyn said that with the number of new “liquid radiation” agents in clinical trials, this is an exciting time for the emerging field. “Moffitt has nearly two dozen clinical trials of these agents open or planned to open over the next year for many different types of cancer, and it’s a wonderful feeling to be able to offer the latest and greatest treatment to our patients,” he said.

For more information on Systemic Targeted Radionuclide Therapy and radiopharmaceuticals at Moffitt, please call (813) 745-1596.

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Located in Tampa, Florida, Moffitt Cancer Center is an NCI Comprehensive Cancer Center – a designation that recognizes Moffitt’s excellence in research and contributions to clinical trials, prevention and cancer control. Moffitt currently has 14 affiliates in Florida, one in Georgia, one in Pennsylvania and two in Puerto Rico. Additionally, Moffitt is a member of the National Comprehensive Cancer Network, a prestigious alliance of the country’s leading cancer centers, and is listed in U.S. News & World Report as one of “America’s Best Hospitals” for cancer.  Moffitt marks a very important anniversary in 2011 – 25 years committed to one mission: to contribute to the prevention and cure of cancer.

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