Advanced childhood cancer arrives at OHSU

Portland, Ore. – Oregon Health and Science University’s Doernbecher Children’s Hospital is now the first hospital in the Pacific Northwest to offer an advanced cancer treatment for kids.

The U.S. Food and Drug has approved CTL109–also known as tisagenlecleucel or “Kymriah”–for one of the most common forms of lethal cancer in children and young adults, acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL).

OHSU is now one of only a handful of certified treatment centers in the United State to offer Kymriah gene therapy.

“It is not uncommon for ALL patients to undergo multiple treatments, including bone marrow transplant, chemotherapy or radiation throughout their medical journey,” said Eneida Nemecek, M.D., M.S., M.B.A., director of the pediatric bone marrow transplantation program at OHSU Doernbecher Children’s Hospital. “Unfortunately, these options are not effective for all patients, and nearly 20 percent of the 3,500 pediatric and adolescent patients diagnosed with ALL every year in the United States relapse or don’t respond to these conventional treatments.”

Kymriah is a form of gene therapy immunotherapy in which a patient’s own cells are collected, genetically engineered to attack leukemia cells, then infused back into the patient, according to OHSU.

A recent clinical trial resulted in 83% of patients becoming cancer-free in three months after a single dose of Kymriah.

Dr. Nemecek said the results of the trial were incredible.

“The FDA approval of this novel therapy will help usher in a new era of personalized immunotherapy treatment for patients, allowing OHSU to expand its already successful pediatric and adolescent cancer care to patients in need, across our region and beyond.”

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