Cellular therapy is a new type of immunotherapy that is bringing hope to pediatric patients with blood cancers. The complete remission rate in clinical trials is 85%, even when patients had estimated durations of survival of weeks to months. These statistics make this pediatric cancer treatment the most effective chemotherapy regimen available.
The therapy is more specifically known as chimeric antigen receptor T cell therapy (or CAR-T cell therapy), and it has been hailed as a breakthrough in the field of immunotherapy. CAR-T cell therapy "takes the brakes" off the immune system's response. Essentially, it trains the cells within the immune system, called T cells, to see tumors they weren't naturally developed to recognize.
Listen to pediatric cancer experts discuss CAR-T cell therapy for patients with leukemia and other cancers
In today's episode of Charting Pediatrics, we explore cellular therapy for the treatment of pediatric cancers, including leukemia. We are joined by Terry Fry, MD, and Mike Verneris, MD.
Dr. Fry is the Robert and Kathleen Clark Endowed Chair in Pediatric Cancer Therapeutics and Dr. Verneris is the Barton Family Endowed Chair of Bone Marrow Transplant at Children's Hospital Colorado. Drs. Fry and Verneris share clinical and research interests in using the immune system to treat cancer, whether that be through bone marrow transplantation or the breakthrough innovations in cellular therapy we will be exploring in this podcast.
In this episode, our experts explain:
- Why checkpoint inhibitors don't work for cancers like pediatric tumors, where mutations aren't present or aren't present at high enough levels.
- How CAR-T cell therapy is different from checkpoint inhibitors.
- How this type of cellular therapy can be used clinically in kids with cancer.
- Why pediatric cancer patients need to meet specific FDA indications before CAR-T cell therapy can be used, and what those indications are.
- Why the CAR-T cell approach may be considered an alternative to chemotherapy.
- The most common side effects of CAR-T cell therapy.
- Upcoming clinical trials and programs that support early phase development of new immunotherapies.
- Why CAR-T cell therapy is such an exciting discovery for pediatric oncologists.
- How cellular therapies could be used to treat additional conditions and what innovations we might see in the future.
- The uplifting personal stories both doctors have experienced when treating pediatric cancer patients with CAR-T cell therapy.
Treating leukemia and other pediatric cancers at Children's Colorado
We offer the region's most experienced dedicated pediatric blood and marrow transplant and cellular therapy program in our Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders. With providers who specialize solely in pediatric bone marrow transplants and cellular therapy, every child treated by our pediatric cancer experts is in good hands. Refer a patient to Children's Colorado.