Innovative leukemia treatment coming to Norton’s Children’s Hospital

Innovative leukemia treatment coming to Norton’s Children’s Hospital
William T. Tse, M.D., Ph.D., director of the Norton Children’s Cancer Institute Pediatric Blood and Marrow Transplant Program and a pediatric hematologist/oncologist with UofL Physicians. (Source: Norton Children’s Hospital)

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - Children suffering from leukemia in Louisville will soon have access to an innovative treatment known as CAR-T (chimeric antigen receptor T cells) therapy.

CAR-T therapy works by collecting and genetically reprogramming a patient's immune cells before they are reinfused into the patient, according to Norton Children's Hospital. The cells pinpoint then destroy acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) cells that may have resisted traditional chemotherapy.

“We are creating the necessary environment at Norton Children’s Hospital to provide this treatment to our patients safely and effectively,” Dr. William T. Tse, M.D., Ph.D., director of the Norton Children’s Cancer Institute Pediatric Blood and Marrow Transplant Program, said.

Dr. Tse explained that the treatment could be available as soon as this fall.

The treatment may cause some serious side effects including high fever to a drop in blood pressure, respiratory issues and brain damage, according to Norton's website. Norton said they are working hard to make sure staff learn the " fine points of CAR-T therapy and developing new clinical guidelines in the management of its complications."

“It is like a magic bullet, a homing device to allow the T cells to find and kill the leukemia cells,” Dr. Tse said.

Only a few hospitals in the country offer this treatment which was first approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval in 2017 for patients under age 25.

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