Tampa General Hospital Opens Bone Marrow Transplant and Cell Therapies Unit to Offer More Treatment Options to Cancer PatientsPublished: Oct 3, 2022
Tampa General Hospital Cancer Institute’s new state-of-the-art unit advances treatment for patients with aggressive cancers.
Tampa, FL (Oct. 3, 2022) – As part of its commitment to world-class, innovative cancer care for the Tampa Bay region and beyond, Tampa General Hospital (TGH) Cancer Institute has established an adult Bone Marrow Transplant (BMT) and Cell Therapies Unit that focuses on treating patients with aggressive hematologic malignancies (leukemias, lymphomas, multiple myeloma) and some types of solid malignancies.
“As we continue to build a Cancer Institute that is at the forefront of innovative treatments for patients with complex cancers, the establishment of our state-of-the-art BMT and Cell Therapies Unit would broaden the portfolio of groundbreaking and life-saving therapeutic options for cancer patients in our state and beyond. For many years, we have known of the life-saving properties of stem cells. However, we are just beginning to realize the power of manipulating immune cells for the treatment of highly resistant/refractory cancers, an emerging field known as cell therapies,” said Dr. Eduardo M. Sotomayor, director of the TGH Cancer Institute and an internationally recognized pioneer in the fields of cancer immunology and immunotherapy, and hematologic tumors. “In our BMT and Cell Therapies Unit, we aim to provide these therapies as well as make groundbreaking contributions to the field through innovative research.”
BMT, also known as stem cell therapy (SCT), is a proven treatment for patients with hematologic malignancies that have failed standard first-line treatment or that have a disease with high-risk features of relapsing after traditional front-line therapies. This therapy involves taking stem cells from the bone marrow or peripheral blood from a cancer patient (autologous transplant) or from a donor (allogeneic transplant), collecting them in special bags and storing them in dedicated freezers. After the patient receives high dose chemotherapy, collected stem cells are thawed and given back to the cancer patient through an intravenous infusion (IV) to produce blood cells and to re-establish a healthier immune system. “The whole process is performed in a highly specialized unit so that the time spent in the hospital is shortened,” said Sotomayor.
Cell therapies are a rapidly evolving field that is revolutionizing how we manage to treat hematologic malignancies, particularly lymphomas and multiple myeloma. It is also now being expanded, through clinical trials, for the treatment of some types of solid tumors. It involves collecting specific types of immune cells (T-lymphocytes or natural killer (NK) cells) from cancer patients, and more recently also from donors, and converting them through genetic manipulation in the laboratory from a “private soldier immune cell” into a “Navy Seal immune cell” able to identify and kill thousands of cancer cells and provide cures to patients who otherwise were running out of therapeutic options.
After several months of careful planning and designing, the TGH Cancer Institute BMT and Cell Therapies Unit opened in Spring 2022. Due to the susceptibility of these patients to infection, the unit has extra layers of infection control, including HEPA filtration, air exchanges and water filtration.
“Bone marrow transplant and now cell therapies can significantly increase the chance of recovery from blood cancers and, hopefully soon, of patients with solid malignancies,” said Dr. Abraham Schwarzberg, chief of oncology and senior vice president of network development at Tampa General. “Our program can also provide improved continuity of care for our TGH Cancer Institute patients. They no longer need to transfer to another facility; they can stay here at Tampa General with their physicians and caregivers.”
The TGH Cancer Institute’s BMT and Cell Therapies Unit reflects the Institute’s philosophy of bringing together a range of multidisciplinary specialties that strongly emphasizes compassionate and personalized care focusing on the whole patient. In addition to physicians who are hematology oncologists with specific training in bone marrow transplant and immunotherapy, the team includes highly trained nurse practitioners, nurse navigators, nurses, social workers, counselors, spiritual services, physical and occupational therapy, dietary services, and pharmacy.
Tampa General’s cancer physicians offer a highly coordinated range of multidisciplinary specialties such as hematologic malignancies, thoracic, breast, colorectal, gynecologic oncology, and now bone marrow transplant and cell therapies. Advanced subspecialties include liver and hepatobiliary oncology, otolaryngology (ear, nose, and throat), and genitourinary (reproductive system and genitourinary tract). Tampa General will continue to take a multidisciplinary approach and will strongly emphasize compassionate and personalized care that focuses on the whole patient. For more information about the TGH Cancer Institute, visit www.tgh.org/cancer.
ABOUT TAMPA GENERAL HOSPITAL
Tampa General Hospital, a 1,040-bed, not-for-profit, academic medical center, is one of the largest hospitals in America and delivers world-class care as the region’s only center for Level l trauma and comprehensive burn care. Tampa General Hospital is the highest-ranked hospital in the market in U.S. News & World Report's 2022-23 Best Hospitals, and is tied as the third highest-ranked hospital in Florida, with seven specialties ranking among the best programs in the United States. Tampa General Hospital has been designated as a model of excellence by the 2022 Fortune/Merative 100 Top Hospitals list. The academic medical center’s commitment to growing and developing its team members is recognized by two prestigious Forbes magazine rankings – first nationally in the 2022 America’s Best Employers for Women and sixth out of 100 Florida companies in the 2022 America's Best Employers by State. Tampa General is the safety net hospital for the region, caring for everyone regardless of their ability to pay, and in fiscal year 2020, provided a net community benefit worth more than $182.5 million in the form of healthcare for underinsured patients, community education, and financial support to community health organizations in Tampa Bay. It is one of the nation’s busiest adult solid organ transplant centers and is the primary teaching hospital for the USF Health Morsani College of Medicine. With six medical helicopters, Tampa General Hospital transports critically injured or ill patients from 23 surrounding counties to receive the advanced care they need. Tampa General houses a nationally accredited comprehensive stroke center, and its 32-bed Neuroscience, Intensive Care Unit is the largest on the West Coast of Florida. It also is home to the Jennifer Leigh Muma 82-bed Level IV neonatal intensive care unit, and a nationally accredited rehabilitation center. Tampa General Hospital’s footprint includes 17 Tampa General Medical Group Primary Care offices, TGH Family Care Center Kennedy, TGH Brandon Healthplex, TGH Virtual Health, and 21 TGH Imaging powered by Tower outpatient radiology centers throughout Hillsborough, Pasco, Pinellas and Palm Beach counties. Tampa Bay area residents also receive world-class care from the TGH Urgent Care powered by Fast Track network of clinics, and they can even receive home visits in select areas through TGH Urgent Care at Home, powered by Fast Track. As one of the largest hospitals in the country, Tampa General Hospital is the first in Florida to partner with GE Healthcare and open a clinical command center that provides real-time situational awareness to improve and better coordinate patient care at a lower cost. For more information, go to https://www.tgh.org.