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Providing New Cures as a CAR-T Therapy Program

Johns Hopkins All Children’s Cancer & Blood Disorders Institute was recently certified to add Kymriah CAR-T therapy to our list of cutting-edge treatment options. We are the only certified pediatric treatment center in Florida with this breakthrough treatment and it is available to cure challenging forms of leukemia in children, teens and young adults.

As one of the first children’s hospitals in the U.S. to provide this transformative therapy, this is a milestone achievement for the Cancer & Blood Disorders Institute (CBDI).

The institute is recognized as a leading pediatric oncology program and is home to the largest and most comprehensive pediatric blood and marrow transplant (BMT) program in Florida. The expert BMT team will provide care to the Kymriah patients who are referred to Johns Hopkins All Children’s for this groundbreaking treatment.
“Immunotherapy has shown great promise through clinical trials in helping achieve remission in children and young adults with previously incurable forms of B-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia.  We now have the ability to share this innovative advanced therapy to help patients who before had no other options,” says Peter Shaw, M.D., deputy director of the CBDI.

Serving as a certified CAR-T treatment center is one more way that JHACH provides the most advanced care and delivers new cures. Patients from across the state of Florida as well as from other states and countries will benefit from this next generation therapy available here in St. Petersburg.

CAR-T uses a patient’s own T cells that have been genetically reengineered to recognize and attack cancer cells. Kymriah (tisagenlecleucel), is the first FDA approved CAR-T cell therapy in the U.S. and was recently approved as a treatment for patients up to age 25 with B-cell precursor acute lymphoblastic leukemia who did not respond to initial chemotherapy or who are in second or later relapse after previous treatment.

The patient’s T cells are collected via apheresis, cryopreserved and shipped to the FDA-approved manufacturing facility, where they are genetically engineered to target CD19. The specially prepared Kymriah cells are then returned to JHACH and given to the patient via infusion. Patients will be cared for in the pediatric oncology unit (7 South), from preparation for collection of T cells through infusion of the CAR-T lymphocytes and identifying and treating any side effects.

“The CBDI physicians, nurses, nurse practitioners, pharmacists and other members of our pediatric cancer team have the advanced knowledge and experience to deliver this targeted therapy that supports precision medicine for pediatric cancer patients,” adds Shaw.

Johns Hopkins All Children’s patient-centered and collaborative approach to care will be a key part of Kymriah treatment as the CBDI team collaborates with the patient’s primary hematology-oncology physician on long-term monitoring once the patient returns home after CAR-T treatment.