UVA Health study shows stem cell transplants often prevent relapsing in common childhood cancers

Cancer Center
Cancer Center
Updated: Mar. 31, 2021 at 7:51 PM EDT
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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - A new study out of University of Virginia Health is giving hope to children with cancer, many of whom tend to relapse.

Researchers at UVA Health found that children and young adults in remission who receive CAR T-cell therapy and a subsequent stem cell transplant are not as prone to relapsing. The Journal of Clinical Oncology published the findings.

“That’s what gives these kids the best possible outcome and it’s miles better than what it used to be,” UVA award-winning clinical researcher Dr. Trey Lee said. “This is just the beginning of immunotherapy for pediatric cancer, it’s going to reach broadly.”

Dr. Lee says, with this one-two punch treatment, leukemia and lymphoma survivors have even better chances of staying cancer-free for years to come.

Among the 21 who received an allogenic stem cell transplant after CARs, only two had relapsed 24 months later. In comparison, all of those who did not receive a stem-cell transplant had relapsed.

“This CAR T-cell therapy is so well tolerated that most of the kids afterwards they feel a lot better than they ever have for a long time because they’ve just been beaten down with chemo for so long,” Dr. Lee said. “They’re out there graduating from high school, from college, and living their dreams.”

Dr. Lee says he is looking to do more research and see if he can expand this treatment to other types of tumors and cancers moving forward.

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