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Moffitt’s Top Research Developments of 2017: New Hope for Aggressive Leukemia

December 22, 2017

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2017 saw important discoveries in the battle against cancer, some of them using elements of our own immune system. Here is a look back at the top five research developments of 2017 at Moffitt Cancer Center.

1. CAR T Therapy Tested, Commercially Available at Moffitt

2. Novel Combination Approach to Lung Cancer Wins Moffitt a Stand Up To Cancer Grant

3. New Targets for Existing Cancer-Fighting Drugs

4. Less is More: Adaptive Therapy

5. New Hope for Aggressive Leukemia

Patients with certain fast-progressing and deadly types of acute myeloid leukemia (AML) saw the first new drug for their disease in more than 40 years approved by the FDA – and it is quickly becoming the standard of care. Called Vyxeos, its clinical trials were conducted at Moffitt Cancer Center under principal investigator and Malignant Hematology Chair Jeffrey E. Lancet, M.D.

The drug combines two chemotherapy drugs in a fixed-combination injection that may help some patients live longer than if they were to receive the two therapies separately. It’s approved for the treatment of adults with newly-diagnosed AML that is related to previous therapy (t-AML) or AML with myelodysplasia-related changes (AML-MRC). AML is a rapidly progressing cancer that forms in the bone marrow and results in an increased number of white blood cells in the bloodstream. The National Cancer Institute at the National Institutes of Health estimates that approximately 21,380 people will be diagnosed with AML this year; approximately 10,590 patients with AML will die of the disease in 2017.

"Vyxeos is the first chemotherapy to demonstrate an overall survival advantage over the standard of care in a Phase 3 randomized study of older adults with newly-diagnosed therapy-related AML or AML with myelodysplasia-related changes," said Dr. Lancet. "The prognosis for these patients is poor, so the FDA approval of this new drug provides a welcome therapeutic advance."

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