Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center

UM/Sylvester Immune System Cancer Trial For Blood Cancers Moves to Phase II


The University of Miami Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center has opened a phase II clinical trial of a monoclonal antibody which offers potential treatment for hematologic malignancies. This antibody, SGN-30, shows promise against several lymphomas by acting as a biological response modifier – a method to help enhance immunity to fight cancer. Several patients are already enrolled in the protocol.

Eckhard Podack, M.D., Ph.D., UM/Sylvester’s Associate Director, Basic Science, and chairman of the department of Microbiology and Immunology, discovered that a molecule, CD30, which is found on the surface of lymphoma cells, can be used to target lymphoma cells for eradication. Because CD30 is rarely found on normal cells, it may be used to fight hematologic cancers like lymphoma and leukemia that bear CD30 on their surface. To target this molecule Dr. Podack developed a monoclonal antibody that will specifically bind with CD30. This may signal the cancer cell to kill itself or to be removed by the immune system. Monoclonal antibodies are developed by combining continually growing tumor cells with antibody-producing lymphocytes in the lab. This “hybridoma” process creates a robust antibody which is custom-made to attack a single antigen, or infection – in this case, blood-borne cancers.

SGN-30 binds with CD30, and it is hoped this may result in the death of some lymphoma or leukemia cells. Patients with Hodgkin’s disease or anaplastic large cell lymphoma who have relapsed or who no longer respond to other treatments and who have lymphoma cells with CD30 will be enrolled in this phase II trial, which is underway now at UM/Sylvester and nine other centers nationwide. Researchers hope to enroll a total of 80 patients in the multi-center trial. UM/Sylvester has collaborated with Seattle Genetics to further the investigation of SGN-30.

Because SGN-30 is a targeted therapy and not a systemic chemotherapy agent, it is not expected to have significant side effects like hair loss and nausea. In a phase I trial involving 24 patients, six patients saw their disease stabilize, meaning growth stopped, and one anaplastic large cell lymphoma patient demonstrated a complete response for four months. These results were presented at the American Society of Hematology annual meeting in December 2003. You may view more at this link, which requires free registration:

This phase II clinical trial is now open to UM/Sylvester patients diagnosed with a variety of hematologic malignancies, including Hodgkin’s disease and certain types of lymphomas and leukemias. “There are cells in the immune system called NK or natural killer cells that can recognize and destroy tumor cells that have been covered or labeled with an antibody, like SGN-30, that earmarks those cells for destruction,” said Joseph Rosenblatt, M.D., scientific director at UM/Sylvester. For more information about this clinical trial or UM/Sylvester, please call (800) 545-2292 or (305) 243-1000.

UM/Sylvester was founded in 1992 to provide comprehensive cancer services and today serves as the hub for cancer-related research, diagnosis, and treatment at the University of Miami School of Medicine. UM/Sylvester handles more than 1,100 inpatient admissions annually, performs 2,800 surgical procedures, and treats 2,900 new cancer patients. All UM/Sylvester physicians are on the faculty of the University of Miami School of Medicine, South Florida’s only academic medical center. In addition, UM/Sylvester physicians and scientists are engaged in 150 clinical trials and receive more than $30 million annually in research grants. UM/Sylvester at Deerfield Beach recently opened to better meet the needs of residents of Broward and Palm Beach Counties. This 10,000 square-foot facility at I-95 and S.W. 10th Street offers appointments with physicians from six cancer specialties, complementary therapies from the Courtelis Center, and education and outreach events.

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