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Moffitt’s Top Research Developments of 2017: Novel Combination Approach to Lung Cancer Wins Moffitt a Stand Up To Cancer Grant

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

If you’ve watched and contributed to the annual star-studded televised event Stand Up To Cancer (SU2C), you’ve played a part in a new research study at Moffitt. This October, Moffitt was awarded a $2.67 million dollar SU2C Catalyst Program grant to study a possible new immunotherapy for non-small cell lung cancer, the most common form of this deadly disease.

The pilot study combines two cutting-edge immunotherapy approaches. Patients in the phase one trial will receive a checkpoint inhibitor (nivolumab) which blocks cancer’s ability to disarm tumor-fighting cells within the immune system. This is combined with adoptive therapy, which harvests T cells from a patient’s surgically removed tumor. These immune cells, called tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes (TILs), are sent to a lab where they are multiplied. The TILs are essentially cancer-killing cells, ready to be infused back into the patient intravenously to find and destroy the cancer.

"Immunotherapy has changed the way we are treating lung cancer, but there are still opportunities to make these types of therapies even better for patients,” said Scott J. Antonia, M.D., Ph.D, chair of Moffitt’s Thoracic Oncology Department and the study’s principal investigator. "This grant from Stand Up To Cancer is a big step toward accelerating a new therapy that could help the hundreds of thousands of patients diagnosed with this disease each year." 

3. New Targets for Existing Cancer-Fighting Drugs

4. Less is More: Adaptive Therapy

5. New Hope for Aggressive Leukemia