Moffitt Myeloma Institute Established at Memorial Hospital West
Center to Host CAR-T Cell Therapy Clinical Trials
The Moffitt Malignant Hematology and Cellular Therapy program, established in partnership with Memorial Healthcare System in 2017, has created a multiple myeloma institute at Memorial Hospital West in Pembroke Pines. The new specialization has added oncologists to treat those with cancer in their bone marrow and will conduct research to benefit newly-diagnosed and relapsed blood cancer patients. The myeloma institute is the only one of its kind in Broward and Palm Beach counties.
“We’re always looking to provide our community the most innovative and highest quality healthcare available anywhere,” said Memorial Hospital West CEO Leah Carpenter, “and this advancement with our partners at Moffitt does that for cancer patients.”
One immediate area of focus is an immunotherapy clinical trial that will provide additional treatment options to patients with multiple myeloma, a disease where cancerous cells form within plasma cells of bone marrow. Called CAR-T cell therapy, it’s administered like a blood transfusion and involves genetically altering the T cells so they produce synthetic molecules called chimeric antigen receptors, or CARs, which enable them to recognize and attach to a certain protein in tumor cells and kill them.
“We see 70-80 new multiple myeloma cases each year and more than 300 with relapse disease so, while not every patient will be a CAR-T candidate, we’re hoping many more will be as the trial progresses,” said Dr. Claudia Paba Prada, an assistant member of Moffitt Cancer Center’s Malignant Hematology and Cellular Therapy at Memorial Healthcare System. “We’re using drugs under research that aren’t available anywhere else in Florida.”
There isn’t a cure for multiple myeloma, but immunotherapy, which harnesses the strength of the patient’s own immune system to fight cancer cells, can be used to get an individual to a stem-cell transplant or maintain quality of life for those who aren’t transplant candidates. It can be used instead of or to supplement chemotherapy and is usually less toxic to the body.
Moffitt expects to begin treating leukemia and lymphoma patients with FDA-approved CAR-T cell therapies at Memorial Hospital West in the coming year.