As one of the nation’s leading cancer centers, Moffitt Cancer Center’s work has led to incredible innovations and breakthroughs that are elevating the standard of cancer diagnosis and care today and in the future.
Moffitt’s notable breakthroughs include advancements in fluorescent imaging, personalized medicine through mathematics and a better understanding of how genetics and age disparities impact outcomes, novel immunotherapies and clinical trials, and a variety of minimally invasive procedures.
Learn more about Moffitt’s recent developments in cancer care:
Improved Access With Fluorescent Imaging
Fluorescent imaging is a fairly new advancement used during cancer surgery that provides surgeons greater access to malignancies and better margins when removing cancer tissue in surgery.
Cytalux is an FDA-approved optical imaging agent available to ovarian cancer patients at Moffitt that is used for intraoperative identification and removal of malignant lesions. Cytalux, a liquid fluorescent imaging technology, is administered through a standard IV before surgery. As it circulates through the body, it binds to and lights up ovarian cancer cells when paired with a specialty near-infrared camera. Surgery with Cytalux allows surgeons to take the malignancies down to the finest level, leaving the fewest cancer cells behind to increase survival and help patients live longer.
Moffitt was the first institution across the nation to participate in Phase 2 and 3 trials to offer Cytalux and is pleased to continue offering it to our ovarian cancer patients. Clinical trials currently underway are exploring if the same imaging technology can also be used for other cancers.
Though cancers may present the same and look similar when viewed under a microscope, we’ve learned that they can behave quite differently, especially regarding how they respond to therapies. Moffitt views each patient’s cancer as unique and creates treatment plans that reflect the variations in the DNA of the tumor to give the patient the best chance of beating their particular cancer.
Mathematical Tools and Modeling
One novel breakthrough in personalized medicine is the Ex Vivo Mathematical Myeloma Advisor (EMMA), created by Moffitt’s Dr. Ken Shain and Dr. Ariosto Silva. EMMA provides personalized recommendations for therapy for multiple myeloma patients by testing an individual’s sensitivity to 31 different drugs at once, both individually and combined. Doctors first isolate a patient’s multiple myeloma cells from their bone marrow biopsy, then administer the drugs to the cells. Powerful digital microscopes take photos of the cells over the next five days as they react to the drugs. With the help of mathematical models as well as the microscope’s digital imagery, EMMA produces a three-month recommendation for the best treatment plan.
Moffitt researchers have also demonstrated how mathematical modeling can be used to analyze and predict how different cancer immunotherapies impact immune cell and tumor dynamics, helping to personalize cancer treatment further and improve responses.
Moffitt’s researchers recently developed a mathematical model that stimulates interactions between all potential combinations of immune cell and tumor cell populations and produces either a successful or unsuccessful tumor control outcome. This model helps conceptualize the best ways to combine therapies to achieve optimal results through immune cells’ antitumor activity.
Genetics and Disparities
The more cancer researchers understand the role genetics play in cancer risk, cancer development, and cancer response, the better outcomes we can create.
Through Moffitt’s highly collaborative Gynecologic Cancer Genetics and Molecular Medicine Tumor Board, our first-of-its-kind multidisciplinary team performs tumor genetics (somatic) and/or inherited gene (germline) testing and meets monthly to discuss results, including the hereditary cancer risk or vulnerabilities of cancer, and identify the best course of treatment or preventative strategies on an individualized basis.
Additionally, Moffitt’s Gastrointestinal Oncology Program presented promising findings this summer at ASCO 2022 related to disparities in treatment-related adverse events (AE) and patient outcomes in early-onset metastatic colorectal cancer (mCRC) patients. Through her research, Lingbin Meng, MD, Ph.D. demonstrated that alterations in the DNA or genomic structure of cells can explain disparities in patients with early-onset mCRC. These findings may improve a personalized management approach for early-onset mCRC patients.
Novel Cell Therapies
Immunotherapy, a treatment type that stimulates the body’s immune system to combat cancer cells, has shown encouraging results, especially with recent breakthroughs including TIL and CAR T therapies.
To continue the development of novel tumor-infiltrating lymphocyte (TIL) therapies, a type of cell therapy, Turnstone Biologics Corp. and Moffitt announced their strategic alliance in July of 2022 as a way to deepen the existing multi-year research collaboration. The initial focus of the partnership is a Moffitt-sponsored Phase 1 clinical trial of TIDAL-01, Turnstone’s lead TIL therapy candidate in cutaneous and non-cutaneous melanoma, which will begin in late 2022. The aim is to broaden and improve the clinical efficacy of TILs and overcome current treatment limitations.
Moffitt’s Immune Cell Therapy (ICE-T) unit, opened in 2020 to centralize immune cell therapy treatment for patients, is another way our multispecialty team is improving the patient experience as well as outcomes. It’s in the ICE-T unit that Moffitt has treated over 500 patients with CAR T therapy, a true breakthrough that reengineers a patient’s own T cells to attack cancer. The ICE-T unit also administers cutting-edge immunotherapies available to patients through clinical trials, many of which have resulted in promising results.
More Accuracy Through Precision Medicine
Robotic surgeries and radiotherapies can provide patients with a higher quality of life during recovery, lower complications, and higher satisfaction rates. Bold advancements in precision medicine from Moffitt have made minimally invasive surgery and radiation therapy more widely available and effective for a broader range of cancer types.
Surgical oncologist Rachel Voss, MD, MPH, in Moffitt’s Sarcoma program, now offers posterior retroperitoneoscopic adrenalectomy (PRA) procedures, an MIS approach to adrenalectomy for patients with adrenal tumors. This approach is ideal for patients who have undergone prior abdominal surgery or those who need both adrenal glands operated on at once. Dr. Voss is one of the only surgeons in the Tampa area offering this approach.
Radiotherapy and Radiosurgery
Moffitt’s Department of Radiation Oncology’s current primary focus is providing personalized radiotherapy using advanced technology, including MRI treatment guidance and exceptionally accurate stereotactic radiosurgery that provide unparalleled levels of accuracy to minimize radiation exposure to normal cells while minimizing side effects for patients.
Leading the Charge in Cancer Care
Moffitt is at the forefront of innovation in cancer treatment, spearheading the use of state-of-the-art technologies and therapies to increase treatment effectiveness, reduce adverse effects, and continue improving patient outcomes. Clinical trials and research are critical to sustaining the ongoing advancement of treatment and novel therapies as we overcome evolving challenges and discover new ways to support patients.
To refer a patient to Moffitt, complete our online form or contact a physician liaison for assistance or support. As part of our efforts to shorten referral times as much as possible, online referrals are typically responded to within 24 - 48 hours.