Childhood B-cell leukemia can be a devastating disease that is currently treated with chemotherapy and hematopoietic cell transplantation (HCT). Though effective in some patients, chemotherapy and HCT can be highly toxic. In addition, when children relapse, it is associated with a poor outcome. Mark Osborn, PhD, is working on an innovative solution that could have an immediate impact on childhood leukemia.
How your donations help:
Today, scientists can engineer a special immune system cell called a T cell to “seek and destroy” a certain protein on B cells. Now that Osborn knows these special T cells can target the proteins, he’s fine-tuning the control of the T cells so they don’t cause potentially fatal side effects. Because this system does not differentiate between normal and leukemic B cells, the patient can have an impaired immune system due to loss of healthy B cells. Therefore, Osborn is developing and testing “on” and “off” switches on the T cell that will let it target the cancer, allowing the child’s immune system to recover and function once the tumor is eradicated.
Here are more ways you’re helping move leukemia treatment forward: