Tampa-based Morphogenesis seeks skin cancer patients for new clinical trials

Known for developing personalized immunotherapies for the treatment of cancer through novel cell and gene therapies, Morphogenesis of Tampa has received FDA approval to expand its human clinical trials into two more types of cancer.

Using its ImmuneFx (IFx) cancer vaccine technology that initiates the power of the immune system on the destruction of tumor cells, Morphogenesis will focus the newly approved trials on advanced Merkel cell carcinoma and cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma.
This new research follows on the heels of successful human trials by Morphogenesis, on cutaneous melanoma, conducted in cooperation with Moffitt Cancer Center, in 2019. (See previous story in 83 Degrees.) 

During that time, the company was awarded three U.S. patents and made multiple applications for worldwide patent protection.
Moffitt Cancer Center will again serve as a testing site to kick-off the Merkel cell carcinoma (MCC) and cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma (cSCC) trials. Moffitt has remained open during the COVID-19 crisis.

“We’re lucky to be at Moffitt. If someone has a terminal disease, you can’t deny them treatment,'' says Morphogenesis CEO Dr. Patricia Lawman. "At Morphogenesis, we felt if the patients needed therapy and were willing to come in, and the doctors were willing to do it, we would open the testing site.''
Other MCC and cSCC clinical trial sites across the country include the University of Southern California, the University of Utah, the University of Colorado, and the Dana Farber/Harvard Cancer Center.

Clinical trials need patients. To qualify for the upcoming trials, someone must have been diagnosed with advanced Merkel or cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma and have failed or refused other therapies, Dr. Lawman says.

“We need just a few visits from them after which they can go on to other treatments if they chose,'' she says. "We expect to make a significant impact on their treatment and response.''
Dr. Lawman states there is no cost to the patient for participation after their initial evaluation, which is often paid for by insurance. All tests involving the study, such as MRI, CT scan, bloodwork, and other lab tests, are covered. She emphasizes that anyone who participates in the Morphogenesis/Moffitt clinical trials will receive the therapy. No placebos will be used. She also says that those who participate in clinical trials often do so not only in the hope of finding a cure for themselves but in an effort to help others by moving such important research forward.
To inquire about participating in the advanced Merkel cell carcinoma (MCC) or cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma (cSCC) clinical trials, go here: more information and a pre-screening form. Or call 813-745-4673 to make a pre-screening appointment with Dr. Andrew Brohl, Principal Investigator for Trials at Moffitt. 
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Read more articles by Pamela Varkony.

Pamela Varkony’s non-fiction topics range from politics to economic development to women's empowerment. A feature writer and former columnist for Tribune Publishing, Pamela's work has appeared in newspapers, magazines, and in PBS and NPR on-air commentaries. Her poetry has been published in the New York Times. Recognized by the Pennsylvania Women's Press Association with an "Excellence in Journalism" award, Pamela often uses her writing to advocate for women's rights and empowerment both at home and abroad. She has twice traveled to Afghanistan on fact-finding missions. Pamela was named the 2017 Pearl S. Buck International Woman of Influence for her humanitarian work. Born and raised in rural Bucks County, Pennsylvania, Pamela often weaves the lessons learned on those backcountry roads throughout her stories.