In the News
UF Cancer Research
UFHCC chosen for “unprecedented” pancreatic cancer clinical trial
The UF Health Cancer Center has been selected as one of 12 initial clinical trial sites participating in Precision Promise, the first largescale precision medicine trial designed to transform outcomes for patients with pancreatic cancer. An initiative of the national nonprofit organization Pancreatic Cancer Action Network, Precision Promise is intended to dramatically accelerate the clinical trial process to bring promising therapies to patients faster. “Being an inaugural member of the Precision Promise clinical trial consortium ensures that our patients have access to some of the most cutting edge and innovative therapies available in the world for pancreatic cancer,” said Thomas George, M.D., principal investigator at UF and medical director of the GI Oncology Program. “The tools to help our patients fight pancreatic cancer and advance the field are now at our ready.”
Researchers learn more about drink that aids post-radiation recovery
When patients get treated for cancer, radiation therapy administered to shrink tumors also affects healthy cells in the gastrointestinal tract and causes difficult side effects such as nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. Now a group of UF Health researchers has learned more about how a set of amino acids, formulated as a rehydration drink, helps the small intestine repair itself after radiation therapy. The researchers were already aware that the formulation improved gastrointestinal function, but the new findings — published in the journal Nature Scientific Reports — reveal its beneficial action on intestinal stem cells. This holds some promise for cancer patients, who typically can’t tolerate a full therapeutic dose of radiation. By increasing their tolerance, more patients might be able to receive the full tumor-killing dose of radiation therapy, said Sadasivan Vidyasagar, M.D., Ph.D., a professor in the UF College of Medicine’s department of radiation oncology.
Grant to support research of deadliest form of prostate cancer
A UF researcher has received a five-year, $1.7 million grant to study when, how and why prostate cancer, which physicians consider highly curable, sometimes spreads, and to develop treatment options for this uncommon but life-threatening occurrence. The National Cancer Institute supported study is focused on bone metastasis, which occurs when cancer cells spread from the original site to other places in the body and is linked to high mortality in prostate cancer patients. “Our study will provide insights that will increase our ability to identify risk factors associated with metastasis and offer the possibility of developing selective antimetastasis therapies,” said principal investigator Dietmar Siemann, Ph.D., associate chair and the John P. Cofrin professor in radiation therapy in the department of radiation oncology in the UF College of Medicine.
Patient with chemotherapy induced heart failure first to receive stem cells
For the first time, UF Health cardiologists have implanted stem cells into the heart of a breast cancer survivor with heart failure in a Phase 1 clinical trial that will examine the feasibility and safety of treating these kinds of patients with stem cells. In the next phases of clinical trials, the researchers will be studying whether stem cells from healthy subjects can improve heart function in patients who have been treated with a group of drugs called anthracyclines, chemotherapy drugs that are still used today.
Patient with chemotherapy induced heart failure first to receive stem cells
UF Health neuro-oncologist David Tran, M.D., Ph.D., has been awarded a $1.78 million grant from the Florida Department of Health’s Bankhead-Coley Cancer Research Program to develop new strategies to target disseminated tumor cells in triple-negative breast cancer. Tran, chief of the neuro-oncology division in the UF College of Medicine’s department of neurosurgery, began the five-year study last March; for the smaller early phase of the study, patients with metastatic breast cancer of any type who have undergone all available standard treatment can participate.
UF Health researcher investigates natural treatment for liver cancer
A UF Health researcher is studying a natural therapy for treating liver cancer, one of the leading causes of cancerrelated deaths in the world. Thomas Schmittgen, Ph.D., a professor of pharmaceutics in the UF College of Pharmacy, is identifying novel treatments and new ways to deliver those therapies by restoring microRNA in the hopes of finding options for people with the disease. MicroRNAs are tiny strands of molecules that serve as important gene regulators in the body. Liver cancers can form when certain microRNA molecules disappear from healthy cells. In a $3.2 million National Institutes of Health-funded study, Schmittgen and coinvestigator Mitch Phelps, Ph.D., an associate professor at The Ohio State University, are attempting to restore the microRNA within cells to healthy levels.
Lower-carb diet slows growth of aggressive brain tumor in mouse models
University of Florida Health researchers have slowed a notoriously aggressive type of brain tumor in mouse models by using a low-carbohydrate diet. Glioblastoma, the most common brain tumor in adults, has no effective long-term treatment, but researchers found a high-fat, lowcarbohydrate diet that included a coconut oil derivative helped reduce the growth of glioblastoma tumor cells and extended lifespan in mouse models by 50 percent.
“While this is an effective treatment in our preclinical animal models, it is not a cure. However, our results are promising enough that the next step is to test this in humans,” said Brent Reynolds, Ph.D., a professor in the Lillian S. Wells Department of Neurosurgery.
Excellence in Care
UF Health recognized for excellence in pancreatic cancer treatment. The National Pancreas Foundation provides hope for those suffering from pancreatitis and pancreatic cancer through funding leading-edge research, advocating for new and better therapies and providing support and education for patients, caregivers and health care professionals. NPF recently named UF Health among its first group of National Pancreas Foundation Centers for excellence in pancreatic cancer treatment. Currently, 28 health care facilities nationwide hold the designation.
Top-Ranked in Florida
UF Health ranked high for cancer care. UF Health Shands Hospital is now tied for top adult hospital in Florida, according to the 2016-2017 U.S. News & World Report adult specialty rankings of the nation’s hospitals. UF Health has been ranked nationally in eight medical specialties, including cancer. U.S. News recently also recognized UF Health Shands Children’s Hospital as one of the nation’s best hospitals for children in nine medical specialties, including cancer. Additionally, UF Health Shands Hospital, which includes the UF Health Shands Cancer Hospital facility, has also been named one of the 100 great hospitals in America by leading health care publisher Becker’s Health care in its Hospital Review, a monthly report geared toward leaders of hospitals and health systems.
UF Health Cancer Network earns national accreditation for quality care. The UF Health Cancer Network, comprising UF Health Shands Hospital and the UF Health Cancer Center at Orlando Health, recently received accreditation with commendation by the Commission on Cancer, a quality program of the American College of Surgeons. Thirty-four quality care standards are evaluated every three years through a survey process and accredited facilities must maintain levels of excellence in the delivery of comprehensive patient-centered care. UF Health and Orlando Health launched a joint oncology program in 2014, which has resulted in one of the state’s largest, most comprehensive cancer programs, staffed by some of the nation’s top oncology experts.