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BC Children’s Hospital Joins International Collaborative to Further the Development of Innovative Immunotherapy Treatments for Kids with Hard-to-Treat Cancer

By June 15, 2018No Comments

BC Children’s Hospital has joined CureWorks, an international collaborative of leading academic children’s hospitals focused on improving care for children with hard-to-treat cancers by expanding clinical trials and accelerating the development of leading-edge immunotherapy treatments.

Every year in BC, approximately 150 kids are diagnosed with cancer. Thanks to rapid and significant advances in cancer treatments, 80 per cent of kids are now expected to survive. For the remaining 20 per cent, who have cancers that are difficult to treat with traditional therapies, immunotherapy provides new hope.

Immunotherapy trains a patient’s own immune cells to recognize and combat cancer cells. Working with the newly formed Seattle Children’s Hospital-based CureWorks, researchers at BC Children’s will further the science of a promising type of immunotherapy called chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T-cell therapy, add to the body of knowledge around this innovative treatment, and develop expertise within the research institute and the hospital.

“We’re proud to be the first Canadian partner in CureWorks,” said Dr. Kirk Schultz, oncologist and Director of the Michael Cuccione Childhood Cancer Research Program, BC Children’s; and professor, Department of Pediatrics, University of British Columbia. “This partnership will give BC kids with few treatment options access to innovative immunotherapies through clinical trials close to home.”

The first CAR T-cell clinical trials will launch this fall at BC Children’s and will initially be available to children with certain types of leukemia that are no longer responding to conventional treatment.