At today's press conference, Emily (Emma) Whitehead and her parents Kari and Tom provided dramatic evidence of the power of these scientific tools to treat cancer. Emily, age 7, had a dramatic recovery from a relapsed form of childhood leukemia following an experimental treatment at The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) which used her own immune cells. Researchers from CHOP and the University of Pennsylvania genetically engineered Emily's T cells to find and destroy leukemia cells. Emily, who was featured in news stories last December, remains healthy and cancer-free, nearly a year after receiving the highly innovative therapy.
The new pediatric Dream Team addresses a crucial need in treating children's cancers. After dramatic progress throughout the last half of the 20th century, cure rates for pediatric cancers plateaued in the 1990s. "Very few new therapies have been developed for pediatric cancer in the past 20 years," said Maris. In addition, he added, current therapies for childhood cancers often have severe side effects that reduce quality of life for survivors who enter adulthood.
Hence, there is a need for new classes of treatments to improve both survival and quality of life. The researchers on the new Dream Team, said Maris, have deep expertise in the most lethal pediatric cancers, and will combine their experience and commitment to a sustained effort improve cure rates.
Realizing the ambitious Dream Team efforts, stresses Maris, will rely on the talents of many collaborators. The researchers represent seven institutions: CHOP, NCI, the Baylor College of Medicine, Seattle Children's Hospital, the University of British Columbia, the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto, and the University of Wisconsin.
The Dream Team also includes important patient advocates: Kelly
|Contact: Rachel Salis-Silverman|
Children's Hospital of Philadelphia