A child with leukemia was cured by CAR-T cell therapy

Hospital Universitario La Paz

The University Hospital of La Paz has just released an 11-year-old boy suffering from Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia type B (LLA-B) after being treated with CAR-T cells. The disease has completely subsided.

Before being treated with cell therapy, the boy had undergone three other treatments that failed. On 23 October he received CAR-T cell therapy at the hospital in Madrid. After one month of treatment and having had the relevant tests, the complete remission of leukemia has been confirmed, so the signs and symptoms of cancer have disappeared and its hematological parameters are normal. Tolerance to the drug has been excellent, with no relevant side effects. There is another patient who is receiving the same therapy.

What are CAR-T therapies?

CAR-T therapies are immune treatments to fight cancer. They consist of removing T cells or lymphocytes (a type of white blood cell) from the patient in order to genetically modify them in laboratories so that they are capable of attacking cancer cells. Remember that malignant cells go unnoticed by the immune system. The reprogrammed cells are then grown in large quantities and injected into the patient. The manufacturing process of the medicine lasts about one month.

CAR-T is currently being used to treat blood cancers, such as leukemias or lymphomas, although research is also being done to treat others.

In the treatment of Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia type B (ALL-B) the CAR-T drugs have given good results. However, its management requires the involvement of a multidisciplinary team. In the case in question, it has involved professionals from the services of hematology-oncology, Neurology, Intensive Medicine, Immunology, Genetics, Pharmacy, and Nursing Hospital La Paz.

Immunotherapy against cancer

Immunotherapy represents a breakthrough in the fight against cancer, since it broadens the range of treatments available, with a lower level of toxicity compared to conventional chemotherapies.

For these reasons, the hospital in Madrid has created the Translational Research Group on Childhood Cancer of the Hematopoietic Transplant and Cell Therapy Unit, led by Dr Antonio Pérez Martínez, and the CRIS Unit of Advanced Therapies, to develop CAR-T therapies.

The group has developed a CAR-T that is manufactured in the same hospital (academic CAR-T) called CAR45RA-NKG2D and is aimed at non-B leukemias and solid tumors, with powerful preclinical results. The great advantage of this CAR-T is that it does not need the cells of the patient in question for its manufacture, so its disposition is immediate. In La Paz, the creation of a white room to produce the drug is being finalized.

The Spanish Association against Cancer (AECC) has granted the group led by Pérez Martínez an aid of 800,000 euros to study the academic CAR-T in children, adolescents and young people with advanced sarcoma.

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