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Advances in Precision Medicine in Cancer Treatment Highlighted at Inaugural Sylvester Lecture

April 13, 2022 – Innovative advances in personalized care, immunotherapy and targeted treatment for people with many types of cancer were the focus of the inaugural Miami Precision Medicine Conference, held on April 2 at the Ritz-Carlton in Fort Lauderdale.

Stephen D. Nimer, MD,

The event, envisioned as the first in an annual series aimed at disseminating updates regarding this dynamic trend in oncology care to caregivers, patients and advocates, was sponsored by the University’s Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center from Miami Miller School of Medicine.

“Precision medicine tailored to a person’s genetic makeup and a particular type of cancer promises better outcomes and fewer side effects,” said Stephen D. Nimer, MD, director of the Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center and incumbent of the Oscar de la Renta Endowed Chair. in cancer research.

“As the only academic cancer center and the only NCI-designated cancer center in South Florida, we have an obligation to help teach the community how to apply these advances to patients in need.”

The event highlighted how developments in precision medicine technologies such as next-generation sequencing, liquid biopsies and molecular clinical trials are creating a new era of hope for patients and patient advocates.

Carmen Calfa, MD
From left to right, Merce Jorda, MD, Ph.D., MBA, and Carmen Calfa, MD

One way to apply these advances, noted conference program director Carmen Calfa, MD, medical breast oncologist at the Braman Family Breast Cancer Institute at Sylvester at Plantation, is to refer patients to one of several trials clinics going on at Sylvester.

Dr. Calfa is also co-medical director of Cancer Survivorship & Translational Behavioral Sciences. “We have learned that precision medicine clinical trials and personalized treatments work,” she added. “We see breakthroughs happening and lives saved every day.”

Bringing together and educating providers with varied roles in patient care were the primary goals of the conference. “Saving time and creating dialogue across healthcare disciplines increases communication and teamwork as we collectively advance precision medicine as a field,” Dr. Nimer said.

Jonathan Trent, MD, Ph.D.
Jonathan Trent, MD, Ph.D.

“We are reaching out to nurses, nurse practitioners, fellows and students so they can see the exciting potential of truly multidisciplinary, research-driven care,” said Jonathan Trent, MD, Ph.D., co-director of the program, which presented on oncology precision in the diagnosis and management of patients with sarcoma. “Ultimately, the goal of the conference is to bring us all together to understand the latest and greatest breakthroughs, the most pressing needs in laboratory research and clinical trials, and how to move the field forward. .”

Precision medicine is important because “general treatment may not work for everyone,” said Craig Moskowitz, MD, program co-director, Sylvester’s chief medical officer and lymphoma expert. He pointed out that, for example, lymphoma was once considered a single disease. Today, thanks in large part to genetic profiling, lymphoma is classified into three different diseases, each with specific genetic abnormalities.

Transforming cancer care

Precision medicine can transform diagnosis, treatment and prognosis, as illustrated by a case discussed during a multidisciplinary session of the Molecular Tumors Committee. The patient, a young woman of childbearing age who was trying to become pregnant, was initially diagnosed with an inflammatory myofibroblastic tumor (IMT) and recommended for hysterectomy. However, next-generation sequencing detected a genetic mutation present in a majority of benign uterine leiomyomas while ruling out the initial diagnosis.

“It was good news for the patient,” said Marilyn Huang, MD, director of translational research in gynecologic oncology at Sylvester.

“Sylvester’s strategic decision to have precision medicine tumor counseling can change the trajectory of a patient’s cancer journey,” said Richard L. Schilsky, MD, who served as the keynote speaker.

Some cancers such as cutaneous melanoma have multiple genetic mutations that can be effectively targeted by precision therapies.

Macarena de la Fuente, MD
Macarena de la Fuente, MD

Precision medicine also represents “an opportunity to identify effective and less toxic treatments for glioma [primary brain tumor] patients,” said Macarena de la Fuente, MD, clinical service chief of neuro-oncology for Sylvester’s line of oncology services, during her presentation. Dr. de la Fuente is also Chief of the Division of Neuro-Oncology in the Department of Neurology at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine.

The search for precision medicine therapies for pediatric malignancies is still in its early stages, said Asha B. Pillai, MD, of Sylvester’s departments of pediatrics, microbiology and immunology, whose multiple roles at the center of cancerology also include the position of assistant director of translational research. . However, Dr. Pillai noted that there is strong interest in advancing this work through, for now, basic science studies.

Richard L. Schilsky, MD
Richard L. Schilsky, MD

In his presentation, Dr. Schilsky, Past President of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO), provided an update on the ASCO TAPUR study, which is evaluating the role of molecularly targeted cancer drugs in the treatment of several types of malignancies, collects data findings to inform potential additional uses of these drugs beyond approved indications, and educates oncologists on the implementation of precision medicine in clinical practice.

The potential of precision oncology medicine to revolutionize the treatment of malignancies such as acute myeloid leukemia and skin, gastrointestinal, gynecological, hematological and lung cancers was explored in numerous presentations. Other topics presented by physicians, researchers and members of Sylvester’s patient care team included the role of patient-reported outcomes and artificial intelligence in advancing the field.

A special feature of the event was a series of concurrent sessions specifically geared towards cancer patients and their families, patient advocacy groups and representatives from organizations focused on rare cancer types.

These sessions featured “a variety of offerings focused on the potential of precision medicine to prolong survival, improve quality of life, and expand treatment options for patients with treatment-resistant cancers,” said Estelamari Rodriguez. , MD, co-lead of thoracic oncology for the Thoracic Site Disease Group at Sylvester and volunteer assistant professor of clinical medicine. “Our goals are to empower patients and their caregivers with information and to create a supportive community for all patients.”

“Meeting the patients who attended was a privilege and a joy,” said Dr. Schilsky. “The willingness of our patients to participate in research so that we can all learn from them was truly inspiring.”

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