Cell Therapies Represent Latest in Cancer Treatment

In Palm Beach, Fla., for the annual “Transforming Children’s Health” educational program held by the Children’s Hospital Foundation, 150 supporters heard about exciting breakthroughs in pediatric cancer care and research. Speakers included Kurt Newman, MD, president and CEO of Children’s National; and oncologists Jeffrey Dome, MD; David Jacobsohn, MD; and Catherine Bollard, MD. While 80 percent of children diagnosed with cancer now survive based on the advanced treatment options currently available, 75 percent of them will develop a chronic disease by age 40, and 40 percent will develop a seriously life-threatening illness. In response, Children’s National‘s internationally renowned oncology team is pioneering novel therapies for children. “We want to ensure that children who do receive care, receive the kind of treatment that gives them the best chance for a full childhood and a productive adulthood,” Newman said. “We are focused on saving lifetimes, not just lives.” Among the promising research is T-Cell Therapy, which has the potential to revolutionize the way cancer is treated in children and over time, adults too. The advantage of T-Cell Therapy is that unlike traditional treatments such as chemotherapy and radiation, there are no toxic side effects. Dr. Bollard, who is leading this research, said, “My focus is the ultimate personalized medicine. We take blood from a patient and once in the laboratory, we train T cells to kill cancer. Once the T cells are ready they are injected back into the patient where they can travel throughout the body to seek out, find, and destroy the cancer cells.” With these new cell therapies, there is an 80 percent response rate for preventing or treating life-threatening infections, and a 50 percent response rate for patients with some of the poorest prognosis. “This is an exciting time at Children’s National,” Bollard said. “This research reveals that our patients now have treatment options that aren’t available at most other pediatric hospitals in the country, or worldwide.  And it means they have lifelong protection from their cancer.” View photos from the Palm Beach event.

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