Dr. Rebecca Gardner and her team at Seattle Children’s hospital are recruiting kids diagnosed with leukemia for a first-in-the-nation trial called PLAT-05 Immunotherapy treatment.
This comes on the heels of multiple success stories as they continue to perfect a treatment for pediatric leukemia.
“There have definitely been successes. We have patients who we treated on PLAT-02 who we treated more than three years ago, and they continue to be in remission, and we can't yet say that they're cured but the presumption is if it's three years later there's a pretty good chance that that leukemia is never coming back,” said Gardner, a pediatric oncologist and the lead investigator for the PLAT-05 trial.
PLAT-05 essentially takes PLAT-02 and PLAT-04 and puts them together.
"T-cells recognize a specific protein called CD 19 from PLAT-02 trial. PLAT-04 is targeting a different protein called CD 22, and we think that ultimately our best outcomes is going to be to treat patients and target two proteins at the same time to try to outsmart the leukemia cells," said Gardner.
We've reported on previous trials where custom T-cells wiped out within weeks in young patients who didn't respond to traditional therapies.
Half of those patients stayed in remission, but for others cancer came back and unfortunately had also evolved.
"Cancer is smart, and so it's hard to always stay one step ahead of it,” said Gardner.
But doctors and researchers are smart too, and with each case, they learn more about how to anticipate and beat cancer.
“When we initially started doing this it would take three weeks in the lab to grow the T-cells and part of what we've learned is how to do it faster, so we shortened it to two weeks and now we think we shortened it to one week, making this therapy available much more quickly for the patients,” said Gardner.
Gardner says that she and her team have all the motivation they need to win this fight.
“It doesn't take a lot to get up in the morning and come to work, because you know that you are actually going to make a difference that day and understanding why you come to work it's because of all these kids,” said Gardner.
With support from the community, Seattle Children’s says they want to transform healthcare for children. They are moving forward to raise awareness and funding for programs like the PLAT Immunotherapy trials
Gardner says they’ll begin infusing customized cancer-fighting T-cells into patients as early as December.