Story by: Norton Children’s on August 1, 2023
Kids with leukemia and lymphoma now have access to one of the latest advancements in treatment, a revolutionary immunotherapy known as chimeric antigen receptor T cell (CAR-T) therapy, at Norton Children’s Cancer Institute, affiliated with the UofL School of Medicine.
Our team of pediatric hematology/oncology physicians specializes in offering some of the latest treatments available for children with cancer, allowing patients and their families to remain in the Louisville area.
The cancer care program at Norton Children’s Hospital, located in the Addison Jo Blair Cancer Care Center, is the only site in Kentucky that currently offers this kind of treatment for pediatric patients diagnosed with certain hard-to-treat types of leukemia and lymphoma.“This treatment allows our patients and their families to avoid having to travel long distances to other institutions to receive CAR-T therapy,” said William T. Tse, M.D., Ph.D., pediatric hematologist/oncologist with Norton Children’s Cancer Institute and medical director of the Hanna Catherine Evans Bone Marrow & Stem Cell Transplant Program. “They’re familiar with our doctors. They’re familiar with our nurses. They can get treatment close to home.”
CAR-T therapy is a revolutionary immunotherapy in which a patient’s own immune cells (T cells) are collected and genetically reprogrammed before the cells are reinfused into the patient. The patient’s reprogrammed immune system then will recognize and kill cancer cells that have resisted conventional chemotherapy.“CAR-T is like a homing device to allow the T cells to find and kill the leukemia cells,” Dr. Tse said.
CAR-T immunotherapy first received U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval in 2017 for patients under age 25 who have certain forms of acute lymphoblastic leukemia. Since then it rapidly has become an essential part of treatment for patients whose cancer does not respond to chemotherapy.In 2018, the FDA also approved treatment for adults with certain types of large B-cell lymphomas, including Burkitt lymphoma.
Immunotherapy has opened up new possibilities in the fight against cancer. Dr. Tse is currently conducting research that aims to bring innovative and effective CAR-T therapies to more children with hard-to-treat blood cancers, such as acute myeloid leukemia, and solid tumors, such as neuroblastoma, osteosarcoma and brain tumors.