Mireya Velasquez, MD

Funded by the Dick Vitale Pediatric Cancer Research Fund

T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia and lymphoblastic lymphoma (T-ALL/LBL) are types of blood cancer that are very hard to treat. Patients with these leukemias need to get strong chemotherapy that can have bad side effects. Because of this, we need to find new treatments that are less toxic. CAR T-cell therapy is a new type of treatment that uses the patient’s own white blood cells and allows them to detect and kill cancer cells. These therapies can focus on only killing the cancer cells and not normal tissues and have few side effects. We have invented a way to treat this type of leukemias and have shown that it works well in models in the laboratory. We want to find out if our CAR T-cells are safe and effective in patients with childhood T-ALL/LBL. To help us reach our goal, we have formed a group of experts, including a) Lab experts – who design CAR T-cells, b) Clinical experts -who know how to treat leukemias c) Immunology experts – who can tell us how the CAR T-cells work and d) Pathology experts – who can study how the leukemias respond to the treatment. Our hospital has what is needed to start the clinical trial that we are planning. We want to find a cure for T-ALL/LBL that has few side effects and help save the lives of children with this type of leukemia.

Location: St. Jude Children's Research Hospital - Memphis, TN
Proposal: Immunotherapy for pediatric T-ALL with redirected naturally occurring CD7-negative T cells
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