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Coronavirus Update: What patients and families need to know

The Children's National Research Institute

STAT Madness 2020

Catherine Bollard MBChB MD in the lab

For the third consecutive year, Children’s National Hospital was selected to compete in STAT Madness, an annual bracket-style competition that chooses the year’s most impactful biomedical innovation by popular vote. Children’s entry, “Immunotherapy of relapsed and refractory solid tumors with ex vivo expanded multi-tumor associated antigen specific cytotoxic T lymphocytes,” uses the body’s own immune system to attack and eliminate cancer cells in pediatric and adult patients with solid tumor malignancies.

An enterprising research team led by Children's National faculty leveraged T cells—essential players in the body's immune system—to treat pediatric patients with relapsed or refractory solid tumors who had exhausted all other therapeutic options.

Children’s National collects the patients’ blood, extracts T cells and replicates them in the presence of specific proteins found on cancer cells which, in essence, teaches the T cells to target specific tumor markers. Training the T cells, growing them to sufficient quantities and ensuring they are safe for administration takes weeks. But when patients return to the outpatient clinic, their T cell infusion lasts just a few minutes.

“We’re using the patient’s own immune system to fight their cancer, rather than more traditional chemotherapy drugs,” says Catherine M. Bollard, M.D., director of the Center for Cancer & Immunology Research at Children’s National and co-senior author of the study. “It’s more targeted and less toxic to the patient. These T cells hone in on any cancer cells that might be in the body, allowing healthy cells to continue to grow,” Dr. Bollard adds.

More on this research can be found in the video and news releases below. 

News Releases

Project Video