Cell, Gene and Immunotherapy – Exciting Progress and New Hope

Megan Morrey Research Updates

For kids like Jacob, a bone marrow transplant is often a risky but necessary treatment to keep cancer at bay. But it can also cause severe side effects. A combination of his bone marrow transplant and damage caused by chemo means his immune system may never be at 100 percent. He has to be extra careful when sharing supplies at school or playing with his friends – and being careful is a lot to ask of a 5-year-old boy.

However, researchers are working on a solution. Today, researchers are focused on making BMTs safer and more effective so kids like Jacob don’t have to endure the many setbacks that today’s BMTs can cause.

Cell, gene and immunotherapy have incredible potential to completely change how cancer is currently treated. These direct, precise therapies can deliver drugs that destroy disease while leaving normal cells unharmed, replace damaged tissue, enable self-healing and reprogram the body to function better.

Potential of CGI Treatments:

  • T cells could be directed to bind to cancer cells and kill them
  • Doctors can deploy viruses to penetrate deep into tumors to deliver a genetic payload that destroys cancerous cells.
  • Reduce or eliminate the need for chemotherapy as a cancer treatment
  • Give patients an alternative option to the often-risky blood or marrow transplant.

A Brighter Future With CGI:

CGI has the potential to be the biggest leap forward in childhood cancer treatment since the first successful bone marrow transplant at the University of Minnesota 50 years ago. It could mean the birth of precision medicine that targets disease and leaves normal cells unharmed.

  • Reduce the health care costs that would result from dealing with complications of and late effects from current treatments
  • Decrease the risk of second cancers in survivors
  • Allow the patient’s immune system to remain intact, decreasing recovery times and risk of infection

Jacob’s cancer has a 40 percent chance of relapse – this reality always looms in the back of his mom, Nicole’s, mind when she thinks about her son’s future. Future cell and gene therapy treatments could reduce the risk of relapse for kids like Jacob.

Current treatments mean that, in their journey toward becoming cancer-free, kids like Jacob are always at risk of infection or relapse. As we explore the new frontier of cell, gene and immunotherapy, we give kids like Jacob and his family hope that soon, cancer treatment will be a series of steps forward, always moving toward renewed and lasting health.

Help Fuel a New Era of Research

To learn more about how you can fuel research in cell, gene and immunotherapy, please contact Amy Polski Larson at 952-224-8486 or apolskilarson@childrenscancer.org.