Using Immunotherapy Treatments to Fight Brain Cancer

Battling cancer is a full-time commitment for many doctors and researchers.

Among those leading the search for innovative cancer treatments is Duane A. Mitchell, M.D., Ph.D., co-director of the Preston A. Wells Jr. Center for Brain Tumor Therapy and Director of the UF Brain Tumor Immunotherapy Program.

Interestingly, the first documented cases of physicians trying to engage the immune system to fight cancer dates all the way back to the late 19th century, but nothing compares to the enormous strides made in the last decade.

“The field of cancer immunotherapy has undergone a rapid expansion, even an explosion, in terms of interest and application for the treatment of a number of advanced cancers over the last five to 10 years,” notes Mitchell.

“Immunotherapy treatments are the most significant change in how we think about treating cancer in the last 30 years.” he adds. “For the last three years the American Society of Clinical Oncology has cited advances in the field of cancer immunotherapy treatment as the most important advances in all of clinical oncology.”

Although brain cancer is not the most common cancer, this malignancy is one of the most deadly and most difficult to treat, and it has been a challenge to develop safe and effective treatments for patients. Although cancer is rare in children, brain cancer is one of the most common types seen in children and adolescents.

“At the University of Florida over the last 5 1/2 years we have developed and expanded a large and comprehensive research program pursuing a number of different strategies on effectively engaging patients’ immune systems, spanning from cancer vaccine and T-cell therapies to nanoparticle-based treatments and stem cell therapies,” says Mitchell. “All of these are different ways to engage the immune system in the fight against invasive brain tumors.”

With more than 100 full-time employees in the UF brain cancer center in both treatment and research, this constitutes a huge effort.

“Several of our approaches have moved into early phase clinical trials and we have seen some very promising results in treating glioblastoma, the most common and deadliest malignant brain tumor in adults, as well as in children with recurrent brain tumors,” notes Mitchell. “We’re encouraged by both the early phases clinical results and our pre-clinical laboratory studies.”

Mitchell will lecture on “The Cancer Immunotherapy Revolution and Relevance for Brain Tumors” at IHMC Ocala. Attendees can expect to learn more about recent advances and specific approaches being taken to develop immunotherapy treatments for both adult and pediatric patients with brain tumors.

Learn More IHMC Evening Lecture Series Duane A. Mitchell, M.D., Ph.D. Thursday, April 4, 6-7pm (doors open at 5:30) ihmc.us (352) 387-3050

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