Infection is the cause of nearly two million cancer cases, accounting for 18% of the worldwide cancer burden. Each year this number increases as new cancer-causing infectious agents are identified. Most infections can be prevented with vaccines and treated with antivirals and antibiotics, providing an extraordinary opportunity to eradicate certain cancers. Advancements in this arena have already been made: in groundbreaking work, researchers determined not only a connection between cancer and a specific virus, but successfully developed a vaccine. In 1995, the human papillomavirus (HPV) was thought to cause only cervical cancer. In 2005, evidence indicated that HPV causes multiple cancers. Today, with just one vaccine, we can prevent four different types of cancer affecting both women and men. As evidenced through this discovery, the possibilities within the field of infection research are global in scale. To further identify cancer-causing agents and revolutionize the standard of care for patients throughout the world, Moffitt Cancer Center has established the Center for Infection Research in Cancer (CIRC).
The purpose of the CIRC at Moffitt is to reveal the role of infectious agents in the origin of cancer and translate this knowledge into novel and effective strategies for the prevention and treatment of cancer. Through work with the HPV vaccine, for example, Moffitt has demonstrated its expertise and success in moving an infectious agents from the bench to vaccine FDA licensure and, ultimately, to the population. The CIRC brings together existing strengths of our institution in laboratory, clinical, and population sciences, along with ongoing specimen and data collection through Moffitt Total Cancer Care®, to promote a cohesive and transdisciplinary research effort toward a more complete understanding of the relationship between certain infections and the tumors they cause.
Philanthropic support will enable the CIRC to capitalize on our institutional strengths and recruit new scientists to conduct research focused on identifying infectious agents across multiple tumor types. By prioritizing the most promising pathogens and cancer sites for research and by implementing epidemiological studies, we will assess cancer causality due to infections in both the U.S. and international populations. Utilizing information from laboratory discoveries, novel clinical trials will be developed to test the efficacy of anti-infectious agents (i.e. vaccines, antibacterial therapeutics) to prevent specific cancers. Ultimately, these findings will be used to guide clinical practices to reduce the global infection-related cancer burden through our own internationally known investigators and partnerships with collaborators from the National Cancer Institute (NCI), the World Health Organization (WHO), and other institutions and organizations around the world. Through this highly promising area of research, the Moffitt CIRC is poised to have a global impact on cancer care.
Director: Anna R. Giuliano, PhD