Researchers from Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSK) are pioneering a new groundbreaking clinical trial for children and young adults with relapsed or treatment-resistant acute lymphocytic leukemia (ALL) by using one of the most promising methods of cancer treatment today, chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T cells.
This MSK-led multicenter trial is entering into an exciting new phase with the addition of Dana Farber/Boston Children’s Cancer and Blood Disorder Center, as a treatment center for children and young adults needing CAR T cells. CAR T cell therapy, a type of immunotherapy, is a striking new weapon in cancer treatment. Unlike targeted drugs that interfere with an individual’s unique tumor makeup, immunotherapy goes one step further to individualize treatment by altering a patient’s own immune cells to fight disease.
“Our collaboration with Dana-Farber/Boston Children’s allows us to offer this treatment to a broader number of children,” says Kevin J. Curran, MD, who leads the study. “Our goal is to show that the immune system can fight leukemia in patients in whom chemotherapy or bone marrow transplant has failed.”
Participants will have their immune cells, called T cells, collected and genetically altered to allow them to recognize and attack a protein found on surface of their leukemia cells. The goal of this trial is to test the safety of modified T cells for patients whose leukemia has returned to the bone marrow following standard chemotherapy and/or bone marrow transplant.
While this research is in its early stages, the potential impact of this therapy has MSK researchers and clinicians excited. Unlike standard pediatric leukemia treatments, where resistance develops to targeted drugs, immunotherapy aims to teach the body how to find and eradicate the cancer cells. “It’s extremely exciting to have this treatment option available to children in both New York and Boston,” said Dr. Curran. “This will allow us to treat more children with this potentially life-saving cure.”
For more information on this clinical trial and eligibility to participate, please visit: https://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT01860937.