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
Moffitt made national news in the closing months of 2017 with a therapy called CAR T. In November, Moffitt treated the first U.S. adult lymphoma patient with a CAR T therapy previously available only through clinical trials co-led by Moffitt researchers. The therapy, called Yescarta™, is the first CAR T therapy approved by the FDA for certain aggressive types of adult lymphoma in patients whose cancer has failed two lines of chemotherapy.
CAR T is a personalized therapy that uses a patient’s own immune system T cells to fight cancer. T cells are gathered from the patient’s blood and engineered with additional receptors to help identify, attack and ultimately destroy the cancer cells. The re-engineered T cells are then given back to the patient much like a blood transfusion, in a single treatment. They enable the body’s immune system to better combat the disease.
"The clinical trials showed us the incredible results this treatment can have for patients,” said Frederick Locke, M.D., vice chair of the Department of Blood and Marrow Transplant and Cellular Immunotherapy at Moffitt. “We expect many lives will be extended as commercial opportunity expands first from the United States, to other countries around the world."