Healthy Living

9-year-old with Lymphoma Designs Color Scheme for NASCAR Driver

Advancements in lymphoma care

Research continues into this scary disease. Seeking better avenues of targeted treatments via immunotherapy is a current focus. One such study is Seattle Children’s T-Cell Immunotherapy research for use with both lymphoma and leukemia. These are referred to as PLAT Studies. Participants are children and young adults not expected to survive with current therapies. The study is in Phases 2 and 3 clinical trials. The focus of the study is to boost the immune system via T-cell activity.

T-cells are lymphocytes whose job is to actively promote immunity against substances “foreign” to the body. T-cells work in tandem with B-lymphocyte cells which produce antibodies. B-cells are produced in the bone marrow. It is hoped this therapy will be faster- acting than those currently utilized, and will have fewer side effects.

In April 2017, Seattle Children’s research study reported that 40 out of 43 participants in Phase I of their PLAT Studies had achieved “complete initial remission.” Additionally, they reported that:

  • This 93% remission rate was confirmed by highly sensitive tests designed to detect tiny amounts of cancer cells.
  • The 40 patients who have achieved complete remission included children with very high tumor burdens as well as children who were diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) as infants. When they started the clinical trial, patients had less than a 20% chance of survival using current treatments.
  • Of the patients who achieved initial remission, about 50% are still in remission 1 year after therapy. Some are still in remission more than 2 years after therapy. For the patients whose cancer came back (relapsed), researchers have found that their reprogrammed T cells are no longer in their body or the cancer cells have changed so that the T cells cannot find and destroy them.

The report also noted that new trials are testing methods to make the programmed T-cells last longer, and are developing a trial to allow T-cells to target the cancer cells from more angles.

Seattle has outlined its study objectives to answer these questions:

  • Is T-cell therapy safe to give to children and young adults with relapsed or refractory acute leukemia or lymphoma?
  • What is the largest dose that children and young adults can stand (the maximum tolerated dose)?
  • Does T-cell therapy work against leukemia? (Seattle Children’s)