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Your Stem Cells, at Work for You


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The Brain Tumor Initiative (BTI) offers patients leading-edge medicine. Our patient-derived cell line program offers patients the chance to revolutionize cancer treatment. We are one of the few Florida providers with a vast stem cell repository and a team of more than 100 multidisciplinary experts whose sole focus is on brain tumors.

Just as every patient is different, every brain tumor responds differently to treatment. To understand how to best treat your specific tumor, you need a healthcare team with the knowledge and resources to fight this complex disease. By closing the gap between operating room, research lab and bedside, we give patients access to emerging technologies.

How Do Patient-Derived Cell Lines Work?

Within every tumor, there are stem lines (groups of stem cells) that mimic the tumor’s disease characteristics. After a tumor is removed by craniotomy or needle biopsy, we collect a small tissue sample from the tumor. From this sample, we grow the cancerous cells in our laboratory to determine their behavior, including growth patterns and response to different medications. These patient-derived cell lines are preserved by freezing. As investigational or FDA-approved cancer drugs become available, the cells are thawed and injected into mice models which are given the drug to see how they respond. This information is used to develop targeted therapy with a higher likelihood of effectively treating your tumor than traditional, “one-size-fits-all” therapies. Patients also avoid experimenting with drug therapies that may not work and the possible side effects. The cell lines can be thawed and refrozen indefinitely.

Developing Tomorrow’s Treatments Today

While the process is still investigational, our team believes patient-derived cell lines will change brain tumor treatment within a few years. Taking advantage of this rapidly advancing technology allows you to participate in clinical trials and treatments as soon as they become available.

Gaining a deeper understanding of each patient’s brain tumor leads to better outcomes. Using stem cells to understand the characteristics of your tumor is truly a giant leap toward personalized medicine.

Am I a Candidate?

You may qualify for the cell line program if you have an upcoming surgery to remove any type of brain tumor. We provide this service for adults and in some cases, children.

Why Choose Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center?

Sylvester is an NCI-designated cancer center. The National Cancer Institute has recognized Sylvester for its outstanding work conducting research in its laboratories, treating patients in its clinics and hospitals, and reaching out to medically underserved communities with innovative prevention strategies.

International leaders in brain tumor care. We play a vital role in the community, thanks to our groundbreaking research and patient care for people in Florida, the Caribbean, and Central and South America. We’re turning Miami into the healthcare capital of the Americas. We’re creating one of the premier brain tumor centers in the country.

Training the rising generation of brain tumor specialists. Here, we are training the next generation of specialists in our field, by offering fellowships in brain tumors, neuropathology, and neurosurgery. The Brain Tumor Initiative is one of only two programs in the United States that offers both neuro-oncology and skull-based fellowships.

Offering the latest in scientific breakthrough treatment. You have access to all treatment options, including surgery, chemotherapy, radiation, complementary and integrative medicine, and comprehensive management — including new approaches through clinical trials. The procedures we perform on both pediatric and adult patients use the least invasive neurosurgical techniques, which reduces recovery time and makes a significant difference in your quality of life.

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