CAR T-Cell Therapy

The FDA approved in August 2017 the use of a new type of immunotherapy, called CAR T-cell therapy, for the treatment of B-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) in children and young adults. Cincinnati Children’s is one of the first pediatric hospitals certified to provide this groundbreaking treatment.

What Is CAR T-Cell Therapy?

CAR T-cell therapy, short for chimeric antigen receptor T-cell therapy, uses a patient’s own immune system to stop or slow aggressive and treatment-resistant cancers.

How Does It Work?

The therapy involves collecting T cells from a patient’s blood. T cells are infection-fighting cells in our bodies. The T cells are sent to a laboratory to be engineered to become cancer fighters. The T cells are reinfused into the patient. The engineered anti-cancer T cells then attack a protein called CD19 on leukemia cells.

Who Can Benefit from CAR T-Cell Therapy?

Patients up to 25 years of age with either refractory (difficult to treat) or second or greater relapse of B-cell ALL. There were previously no curative options in cases where chemotherapy or transplant didn’t work. Clinical trials have indicated that CAR T-cell therapy has the potential to provide long-term remission and even a cure for B-cell ALL.

Why Come to Cincinnati Children’s for Treatment?

Cincinnati Children’s has been conducting clinical trials related to ALL, the most common cancer in children, for some time, giving our care teams the necessary experience to care for these patients. We have multiple clinical trials for children with relapsed or refractory ALL, including CAR-T therapy and other immunotherapies. We are also now among a small number of places approved as a treatment site for the drug tisagenlecleucel (brand name Kymriah), which is used in CAR T-cell therapy.

What Is Kymriah?

Kymriah is a one-time treatment that has shown an 83 percent remission rate for B-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia (B-ALL) in clinical trials with patients who do not respond to traditional treatments.

While this treatment can have significant side effects, it offers hope for patients that had none before. This therapy will continue to be modified for better, more robust treatment that will save the lives of those patients with relapsed cancer.

What You Need to Know

Visit our blog.

A pediatric oncologist at Cincinnati Children’s shares four things parents must know about CAR T-cell therapy.

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Clinical Trial

Learn more about our clinical trials.

We continue to study the use of CAR T-cell therapy in relapsed / refractory B-precursor acute lymphoblastic leukemia.

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