A new cutting-edge clinical trial is being developed specifically for children and young adults with relapsed or treatment-resistant acute lymphocytic leukemia (ALL) using cutting-edge chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T cell immunotherapy. The trial will be conducted by investigators from the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSK).
Dana Farber/Boston Children’s Cancer and the Blood Disorder Center joined the multi center trial led by MSK to serve as therapy centers for children and young adults performing CAR T cell treatment. CAR T cell therapy is a new kind of immunotherapy for cancer patients where T cells from their blood are collected and genetically changed in a way to recognize and bind specific proteins that exist on the surface of their leukemia cells, ultimately killing tumors.
“Our collaboration with Dana-Farber/Boston Children’s allows us to offer this treatment to a broader number of children,” said Dr. Kevin J. Curran, principal investigator, in the news release. Dr. Kevin J. Curran added that their main objective is to demonstrate the ability of the patient’s immune system to kill leukemia cells after unsuccessful chemotherapy or bone marrow transplant.
The team will evaluate the safety of treating patients where leukemia has recycled to the bone marrow after standard chemotherapy and/or bone marrow transplant (i.e. chemotherapy or bone marrow transplant has failed) with genetically modified cells extracted from their own blood called “modified T-cells.”
Although this therapy is still in its first developmental phase, it has a high potential impact, with researchers and clinicians from Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center showing a great deal of enthusiasm for this new strategy. Contrary to standard therapy, where tumor cells develop resistance to targeted drugs, immunotherapy enables the patient’s immune system to target and kill tumor cells.
Dr. Curran said the team is very excited about the possibility of treating children with this type of alternative therapy, and added that it will enable the treatment of higher numbers of children and holds the potential to effectively cure cancer.
Additional information and admissibility to participate in this clinical study can be found in (https://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT01860937.