PRIMING THE IMMUNE SYSTEM TO FIGHT CANCERS IN KIDS lmmunotherapy- the fine-tuning of the body's immune system to fight cancer - has been one of the most exciting and challenging frontiers in medicine. Many cancers spread because they've figured out how to elude the immune system. With immunotherapy, medications are designed to rearm the body's defenses to attack and kill the cancer cells. Late last year, patients at the South Texas Pediatric Blood and Cancer Center at University Hospital became the first in the nation to take part in a national study of a promising new immunotherapy agent in children and young adults. The South Texas Pediatric Blood and Cancer Center is a partnership between University Health System and The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio. Atezolizumab was approved by the Food and Drug Administration last year to treat non-small cell lung cancer in adults under a special expedited process called breakthrough therapy designation. The designation is granted when a new drug shows early but substantial progress in a life-threatening illness. Ifs also shown good results in a form of bladder cancer known as metastatic urothelial carcinoma. The new trial will study the effectiveness of the drug in children ages 2 to 17 and young adults up to age 30 who have pediatric cancers - solid tumors, Hodgkin lymphoma and non-Hodgkin lymphoma. "Even though we've had some great advances over the past 40 years in treating cancer with chemotherapy. Radiation and surgery, there have been few new treatment options for children and young adults who do not respond well to traditional therapy or whose cancer relapses. This is our sickest group of patients because the standard therapies no longer work," said Dr. Anne-Marie Langevin, who heads the local arm of the study. Dr. Langevin is professor of pediatric hematology/ oncology at the UT Health Science Center and holder of the Greehey Distinguished Chair in Pediatric Oncology. "Atezolizumab uses the body's own immune system to fight the cancer. The new trial will look at how pediatric tumors and children's developing bodies react to the new medication;• Dr. Langevin said.
2016 See How We See Annual Report
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