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T-Cell Immunotherapy Achieves 85% Complete Remission Rate in Children With Relapsed Leukemia

Researchers surprised by ‘incredible’ result

Seattle Children’s Hospital has announced that 11 of 13 patients treated thus far in a clinical trial using genetically reprogrammed T cells to treat relapsed acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) have achieved complete remission, which was confirmed by highly sensitive tests designed to detect minute amounts of cancer cells.

In a presentation at the American Society of Hematology annual meeting in San Francisco, lead investigator Dr. Rebecca Gardner shared data on the patients treated thus far in the ongoing Pediatric Leukemia Adoptive Therapy-2 (PLAT-2) trial. The study includes patients with ALL who had relapsed after a bone-marrow transplant. Such patients typically have only a 10% to 20% chance of survival with standard treatment. Using immunotherapy, which reprograms the body’s T cells to hunt down and destroy cancer cells, the researchers achieved an 85% complete remission rate.

“In this population of patients, a treatment with a 20% response rate would be considered a success,” Gardner said. “Having 11 out of 13 patients achieve a complete remission is incredible, but we will keep working until we have 100% in remission.”

In the first phase of the trial, Gardner treated 13 ALL patients using cancer immunotherapy. This phase was designed to demonstrate the safety and efficacy of immunotherapy as a treatment for leukemia and to determine the optimal dose of re-engineered T cells to administer to patients. Of the 13 patients treated, 12 responded to the treatment and 11 achieved complete remission. One of these patients has since relapsed; the remaining 10 are in ongoing remission. The second phase of the trial, which is expected to begin in 2015, will allow even more patients to be treated with what researchers determine is the optimal dose of re-engineered T cells.

“Our goal is to eventually offer immunotherapy to patients when they are first diagnosed with cancer so they don’t have to endure transplants or prolonged chemotherapy and radiation,” said co-investigator Dr. Mike Jensen, a pioneer in immunotherapy.

The success of immunotherapy as a treatment for leukemia has motivated the researchers at Seattle Children’s Hospital to begin a clinical trial in patients with neuroblastoma, one of the deadliest forms of childhood cancer. Phase I of that study, which was recently authorized by the FDA, is currently recruiting participants.

Source: PR Newswire; December 9, 2014.


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