A new cancer-fighting research collaborative was announced by founder Seattle Children’s to bring together leading children’s research hospitals from around the world to join forces and fast track proven immunotherapies to cure childhood cancer.
Think of it as immunotherapy in a hurry.
“A new collaborative has been born, it’s called CureWorks, and it will be a group of children’s hospitals all dedicated to advancing pediatric cancer immunotherapy on an accelerated timetable,” announces Dr. Michael C. Jensen, the executive director of Seattle Children’s Ben Towne Center for Childhood Cancer Research and now also the executive director of the newly formed CureWorks.
“The initial group that has banded together to create the consortium or collaborative is Seattle Children’s, Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles, National Children’s in Washington DC and our friends up in Vancouver at BC Children’s.
We already from day one, are an international collaborative,” explains Dr. Jensen.
Immunotherapy to fight blood cancers and tumors is rapidly evolving with the hope of becoming the “go to” treatment for childhood cancers.
“What’s really important is that while cancer immunotherapy is a transformative new form of treatment, children can’t lose out and too frequently the momentum gets generated for adults and there’s a lot of reasons for that," continued Dr. Jensen. "Our goal and our mission for CureWorks is to make sure that children get the same opportunity to benefit from these treatments."
Immunotherapy is a process where T cells are taken from a patient and re-engineered to target cancer cells. After the cells now called CAR T cells are put back in the patient, often within days the cancer cells in the patient’s blood visibly disintegrate.
There are many trials taking place across the country, but in a regional or isolated environment, the CureWorks alliance hopes to change that model.
“We operate on the spirit of collaborating that together we can do it better and faster. Pediatric cancer research has had a long history of collaborating because no one hospital can see enough children to make the trials move faster. So, we work together,” said Dr. Jensen.
Seattle Children’s and their sponsors are making a $300 million investment in that collaboration. The current Ben Towne Center lab is about 3,000 square feet.
The new Seattle Children's Research Institute's, Building Cure will be ten times larger than the current space.
Dr. Jensen refers to the new space as a CAR-T cell factory that will put a cure for cancer within reach of more children, much more quickly.
He hopes that soon they will be sending curative CAR T cells to children all over the world as their best chance to beat cancer.