Promising new treatments are providing hope that a cure for some forms of cancer may be within reach.
Researchers at Moffitt Cancer Center are using one form of immunotherapy and awaiting FDA approval for another.
Immunotherapy uses the body's immune cells to recognize cancer and destroy it.
One type, called checkpoint inhibitors, uses drugs to disable the tumor cells that allow cancer to hide from the body's immune system. In another type, called CAR T-Cell therapy, doctors infect the body's immune cells with DNA to help them recognize cancer cells.
Moffitt CEO Dr. Alan List said both are producing dramatic results.
“This is probably one of the most promising therapies we've seen in oncology at least in my career,” List said.
When CAR T-Cell therapy is used in patients with one form of leukemia, researchers have witnessed a 70 to 80 percent remission rate, List said.
“These are remarkable, durable responses for patients that otherwise have refractory disease that have no other hope,” he said.
Moffitt is among a handful of cancer centers around country that can offer the treatments.
Expected demand for the new treatments is the driving force behind a proposed $800 million expansion at Moffitt.
The 10-year expansion would add a hospital wing, two research buildings, a clinical support building and outpatient facilities.
Patients must stay at Moffitt to receive the CAR T-Cell treatment, so the hospital will add beds to meet what will likely be a growing demand.
The hospital hopes to raise $500 million and finance the rest with a bond.