A lead oncology researcher, Dr. Colleen Annesley is part of the immunotherapy team that reprograms a patients’ own immune cells (T cells) to find and destroy leukemia cells. Called T-cell immunotherapy, the treatment has none of the often harmful side effects of chemotherapy or radiation.
Motivated by successes from the PLAT-02 clinical trial and propelled by the still unanswered questions related to why some patients relapse, Annesley has a plan.
For the PLAT-03 trial, she is using a second set of T cells to fool the first set into thinking the patient’s leukemia is still active, encouraging the T cells to keep fighting the cancer.
In the near future, Annesley hopes she can offer these therapies closer to a child’s initial diagnosis. By offering targeted therapies from the beginning, she believes they can reduce the overall amount of chemotherapy a patient needs during treatment.
It is an indescribable feeling to go into a patient’s room and tell them that, after they have failed multiple treatments, CAR T-cell therapy has worked for them and they are now in remission. They are elated, we are elated, and it never gets old.