February 10, 2015 – Doctors and researchers from the University of Pennsylvania and Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia will present the results of their investigational T-Cell Therapy (CTL019) trial for the treatment of recurring pediatric and adult B-Cell Cancers at the 56th American Society of Hematology Annual Meeting and Exposition in Orlando, Florida in December, 2015. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration designated the trial as breakthrough therapy for the treatment of acute Lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL), non-Hodgkins lymphoma (NHL), and various adult B-Cell lymphomas. The FDA’s approval gives researchers and doctors the opportunity to explore the effectiveness of this cell therapy that uses the body’s own immune system to kill cancer cells.
The CTL109 process takes the patient’s disease fighting T-cells from their body and re-engineers them to attach to cancerous B-cells when they are reintroduced into the patient. The reengineered T-cells then attack the cancerous cells. As the T-cells divide and multiply, they continue to destroy the cancerous cells in the body, including those that form after initial treatment. Over 125 patients with recurring B-cell cancers have undergone the T-cell trial with promising results. One of the most encouraging findings has been the response of the pediatric patients participating in the trial through Children’s Hospital in Philadelphia.
Thirty-nine pediatric patients with recurring acute lymphoblastic leukemia underwent the CTL019 treatment with 92% having a complete response after infusion of the modified T-cells. Seventy percent of these children remained in remission at the six month checkup. The first patient to ever undergo the procedure is still living three years after the treatment. This is good news to the estimated 327,520 people living with or in remission from leukemia, and the 761,659 people living with or in remission from lymphoma. In the year 2014, experts predicted almost 800,000 new cases of leukemia and lymphoma would be diagnosed with over 50,000 expected to die from their cancer.
As the CTL019 trial continues, doctors and researchers are hopeful that they can advance their knowledge and treatment options in the T-cell immunotherapy trial for patients with treatment resistant cancers. All those entering the CTL019 trial had experienced relapse after chemotherapy, radiation, and bone marrow transplants failed. Though the CTL019 treatment is not available to newly diagnosed cancer patients, its success offers hope that cell therapy can advance to help victims of other treatment resistant cancer.
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