CAR T-cell therapy is a promising new treatment for some of the
most challenging cases we face in pediatric leukemia and lymphoma. It is a form
of immunotherapy and works by modifying the body's T-cells, a type of immune
system cell that hunts and destroys abnormal cells, such as cancer cells.
To do so, a sample of a patient's T-cells are collected from the
blood intravenously through a process called apheresis. Once collected, the
T-cells are genetically engineered to produce special structures called chimeric
antigen receptors (CARs) on their surface.
These genetically-engineered cells are then reinfused to the
patient via an intravenous line. After returning to the patient's body, the new
receptors enable the CAR T-cells to latch onto a specific protein on the
patient’s tumor cells and kill them.
View an infographic about the CAR T-cell therapy process.
Dana-Farber/Boston Children's is one of the top pediatric cancer treatment
programs in the world. Our Hematologic Malignancy Center has
been a leader in advancing treatment of childhood ALL, which has resulted in an
overall 90 percent cure rate for the disease. To increase the cure rate, our
leukemia specialists continue to pioneer the latest and most innovative
treatments through clinical trials and experimental therapeutics. Because our
physicians are leading these trials, our patients often have access to new
drugs and therapies at the earliest stages of new drug’s development.
We are committed to finding the best treatment for our patients.
We evaluate each patient individually to determine a personalized treatment
plan. This may include CAR T-cell therapy, stem cell transplant, clinical
trials, or a combination of these therapies. To determine the best treatment
course for a patient, we evaluate factors including the biology of the
patient’s cancer, the time of relapse, and patient-specific attributes like
age. For example, the best treatment plan for one patient may be using CAR
T-cell therapy as a bridge to a stem cell transplant, and for another, it may
be only a stem cell transplant.
Because the CAR T-cell therapy process involves a three- to
four-week period between apheresis and infusion of the genetically modified
cells, we continue to treat patients during this time and can often identify
clinical trials or standard therapies that can control a patient’s disease
while they await their CAR-T infusion. Patients at Dana-Farber/Boston
Children’s have access to a leading leukemia program that oversee many clinical
trials that CAR T-cell therapy patients may benefit from.
At Dana-Farber/Boston Children’s, we offer approved therapies for
the following conditions:
Our CAR T-cell therapy team is made up of experts in leukemia, immunotherapy,
gene therapy, and stem cell transplantation who are experienced in
administering genetically-modified therapies and well-equipped to anticipate
and handle any potential side effects of CAR T-cell therapy. This team is
supported by the #1-ranked children's hospital by U.S. News & World
Report and builds upon Dana-Farber/Boston Children’s immunotherapy expertise,
a world-leading gene therapy program, and one of the
country's largest stem cell transplant centers.
more about our CAR T-cell therapy team.
For more information about whether CAR
T-cell therapy is right for your child or to refer a patient, contact:
Colleen Dansereau, RN
Director of Clinical Operations, Gene Therapy Program
For information about CAR T-cell therapy for adults, visit
the Dana-Farber website, call 877-801-2278 (CART), or
After undergoing a promising new treatment for acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL), Cole Malone is back to doing what he loves: playing on a flag football team with his twin brother, Michael.