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University of Wisconsin to Test 'Breakthrough' Pediatric Leukemia Treatment

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Dr. Christian Capitini, principal investigator of the clinical trial

Madison, Wisconsin - A promising method of immunotherapy to treat children with relapsed acute lymphocytic leukemia (ALL) is opening at the University of Wisconsin Carbone Cancer Center and American Family Children's Hospital. The trial is open to relapsed/refractory pediatric ALL patients who have limited treatment options.

 

The UW Carbone Cancer Center is among several centers participating in a multi-site trial to test this immunotherapy named, CTL019, which was developed by a research team at the University of Pennsylvania. Initial clinical trials of CTL019 have taken place at both Penn and The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. Penn and Novartis have an exclusive global collaboration to research, develop and commercialize targeted chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) immunotherapies for the treatment of cancers. The therapy received the Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) Breakthrough Therapy designation on July 7, 2014.

 

This experimental therapy for ALL uses a CAR- to attach to, and hunt, leukemia cells expressing a CD19 antigen by using the study participants' T-cells.

 

In this experimental treatment, T-cells are reprogrammed to express the CAR receptor which may detect the leukemia and potentially destroy the cells.

 

The process begins by extracting T-cells from the study participants. The cells are sent to a lab for reprogramming. "Once the T-cells are reprogrammed, the modified cells are shipped back with the special cells," said Dr. Christian Capitini, principal investigator of the clinical trial.

 

Both the collection of T-cells and the infusion can be outpatient procedures.

 

Capitini said patients can potentially develop symptoms of cytokine release syndrome. Cytokines are inflammatory molecules that are released when there is inflammation. The CAR cells grow in massive numbers while in the patient and trigger the release of cytokines.

 

"Symptoms include high fevers, chills and headaches, but some very serious symptoms, like dangerous blood pressure drops or breathing difficulties, may develop," said Capitini.

 

Patients must stay close to the hospital because of these potentially rapidly developing symptoms.

 

"At this point, the patients are hospitalized and some may be admitted to the intensive care unit if necessary," said Capitini. "Patients are treated with an anti-inflammatory drug used for rheumatoid arthritis called tocilizumab. The symptoms may resolve in a matter of hours after administration of the drug."

 

The follow-up care may involve a monthly immunoglobulin infusion because all normal B-cells are killed by the therapy.

 

The therapy has been accelerated through the work of a "dream team" of academic institutions granted $14.5 million from Stand Up to Cancer and the St. Baldrick's Foundation. The "dream team" is studying immunotherapy and genomics. The Carbone Cancer Center and American Family Children's Hospital will join in a Phase II clinical trial to study the efficacy of the CTL019 therapy in pediatric patients with relapsed/refractory ALL.

 

Those interested in joining the trial should check with their physician or refer to the clinical site to determine eligibility. Learn more about the trial

 

The University of Wisconsin is among several centers participating in a multi-site trial to test CTL019, which was developed by a research team at the University of Pennsylvania. Initial clinical trials of CTL019 have taken place at both Penn and The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. Penn and Novartis have an exclusive global collaboration to research, develop and commercialize targeted CAR immunotherapies for the treatment of cancers and are the sponsors of this clinical trial.

 

To learn more about the clinical trial, please call (608) 890-8070.


Date Published: 02/24/2015

News tag(s):  cancerchristian m capitinileukemiachildrenkids

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