Immunotherapy approaches are designed to stimulate the immune system to recognize and destroy cancer and can result in responses lasting for years. One strategy to improve immune responses against tumors is to isolate immune cells from the tumor, grow the cells to very large numbers in the laboratory, then transfer them back to the patient as adoptive cell therapy (ACT). At the Tampa Moffitt Cancer Center, patients with metastatic melanoma have been treated with ACT in clinical trials. At the time of the initiation of these trials, the expected survival time for stage IV metastatic melanoma patients was 6-9 months. Currently, patients treated on the ACT trial are tumor-free at 46, 52, 54, 57, 59 and 66 months. Funding from Swim Across America has led to the development of additional clinical trials in patients with metastatic melanoma that combines ACT with other immunotherapy approaches that is expected to boost results even further. The crucial funding from Swim Across America has allowed for the development of improved ACT strategies resulting in additional awards to Drs. Amod Sarnaik and Shari Pilon-Thomas totaling greater than $3 million. These awards include a National Cancer Institute K23 training grant, an American Cancer Society Research Scholar grant, and a sponsored Research Agreement with Lion Biotechnologies.
Picture 1 L-R: Dr. Amod Sarnaik, Dr. Shari Pilon-Thomas
Picture 2 L-R: Dr. Shari Pilon-Thomas, Dr. Amod Sarnaik