TAMPA, Fla. Moffitt Cancer Center is kicking off Breast Cancer Awareness Month with the announcement of a new grant from the Department of Defense (DoD) to advance immunotherapy research for patients whose breast cancer has metastasized to the brain. The four-year, $8.3 million Breakthrough Award from the DoD’s Breast Cancer Research Program will fund a phase 2 clinical trial led by Brian Czerniecki, M.D., Ph.D., chair of Moffitt’s Breast Cancer Oncology Department.

The first-of-its-kind trial, which will begin accruing patients next year, will evaluate the efficacy of a three-part treatment strategy utilizing immunotherapy that includes:

  • A dendritic cell vaccine developed by Czerniecki in collaboration with Pawel Kalinski, M.D., Ph.D. of Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center in Buffalo, N.Y.
  • Chemokine modulation adjuvant therapy with rintatolimod (Ampligen) and interferon alfa-2B (Intron A)
  • Immune checkpoint inhibition

“There are very few treatment options for breast cancer patients who have brain metastasis to the central nervous system. We know these three immunotherapies alone work well for a small number of patients, but our preclinical studies suggest that using them together in a three-pronged approach could increase tumor visibility to the immune system and in turn work to shrink the cancer,” said Czerniecki.

The trial will begin first in patients with localized brain-metastatic breast cancer (BMBC) that is not widely spread, and then expand to include patients with disseminated, leptomeningeal BMBC.

“The current treatments available for patients with brain-metastatic breast cancer are surgery, chemotherapy and radiotherapy. None are curative and all can have harmful side effects. Immunotherapy has the potential to reduce tumor size with little effect to a patient’s quality of life,” said Peter Forsyth, M.D., chair of Moffitt’s Neuro-Oncology Department and co-principal investigator for the BMBC trial.    

For more information on the BMBC trial, please contact Taylor Lannon, clinical research coordinator, at Taylor.Lannon@Moffitt.org or 813-745-4395.

About Moffitt Cancer Center
Moffitt is dedicated to one lifesaving mission: to contribute to the prevention and cure of cancer. The Tampa-based facility is one of only 51 National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Centers, a distinction that recognizes Moffitt’s scientific excellence, multidisciplinary research, and robust training and education. Moffitt is a Top 10 cancer hospital and has been nationally ranked by U.S. News & World Report since 1999. Moffitt devotes more than 2 million square feet to research and patient care. Moffitt’s expert nursing staff is recognized by the American Nurses Credentialing Center with Magnet® status, its highest distinction. With more than 6,000 team members, Moffitt has an economic impact in the state of $2.5 billion. For more information, call 1-888-MOFFITT (1-888-663-3488), visit MOFFITT.org, and follow the momentum on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.