BOSTON (CBS) — The Dana Farber Cancer Institute and Boston Children’s Hospital will work to fight cancer in a new way thanks to a new treatment approved by the FDA.
CAR-T therapy is for kids and young adults with relapsed and refractory acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL).
“It’s really an entirely new type of therapy, an entirely new way to fight cancer,” said Dr. Lewis Silverman, the Clinical Director of the Pediatric Hematologic Malignancies Center.
Chemotherapy drugs attack dividing cells but are not specific to cancer cells, unlike this new treatment, according to Silverman.
“It’s a pretty exciting new therapy that involves taking a patient’s own white blood cell called a T cell and redirecting it by genetically engineering it outside the body. So it will attack the cancer cell, in this case, a childhood leukemia cell,” explained Silverman.
Mitchell Carson battled leukemia for years, then it spread to his brain.
“Three years of fighting, all the sacrifices I had made, it just seemed like it was all wasted,” he said.
CAR-T therapy changed that.
Groveland’s Michelle Denault, who was fighting lymphoma, also benefited from the new drug.
“It was devastating when they told me nothing could be done,” Denault remembered.
She was once given months to live but is now almost a year and a half into remission.
“My immune system just woke up and went into action. For whatever reason, it couldn’t before. It was a game changer,” she said.
There are 2,500 new cases of ALL a year.
Currently, the drug was only approved for childhood leukemia but approval to fight lymphoma could be next.