Sarah K. Tasian, MD
The historic FDA approval of tisagenlecleucel (Kymriah) marked the beginning of a new era of personalized medicine in hematologic malignancies, especially for select pediatric patients.
, Sarah K. Tasian, MD, an attending physician and assistant professor of pediatrics in the Division of Oncology at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, discussed the success of CAR T-cell therapy, as well as novel agents and immunotherapies that appear promising in the treatment of children with leukemia.
OncLive: What has been the impact of the recent FDA approval of tisagenlecleucel on the field of pediatric hematology?
The approval of CD19-redirected CAR T cells for children with B-ALL is a historic landmark. Several institutions across the country, including CHOP and the University of Pennsylvania, have conducted clinical trials investigating these therapies in adults and children with B-cell ALL or lymphoma and demonstrated remarkable results. This now gives a lot of hope to patients who have highly treatment-resistant disease who can now potentially be cured. It is truly one of the most exciting developments in oncology and especially in childhood leukemia in the past 50 years.
What research related to CAR T-cell therapy have you been involved with?
I am at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, where the first child with B-ALL was treated with CD19 CAR T cells. Given this remarkable success, our clinical immunotherapy team has subsequently treated hundreds of children and young adults on its research trials. Through multi-institutional grant mechanisms, our group also [closely] collaborates with other pediatric institutions that have been conducting these pivotal CAR T cell trials and other laboratory-based research, such as the National Cancer Institute (NCI) and Seattle Children's Hospital. It is a very small community in that respect of talented, bright investigators focused upon developing innovative therapies together for children with high risk cancers.
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