Immune to Cancer: The CRI Blog



Childhood Cancer Awareness Month: 2021 Immunotherapy Research Updates

The global spread of COVID-19 has heightened awareness of the role of age in the immune response to different threats, including viruses, bacteria, and cancer. In the past two years, an illness known as multi-system inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS-C) has emerged. While the direct cause of MIS-C is unknown, it is associated with previous infection or exposure to COVID-19.

Among the many new studies in immunology on SARS-CoV-2, CRI-Mark Foundation Fellow Josephine Giles, PhD, is a first author of a paper in Science Immunology that analyzes immune system behavior in patients with MIS-C. The research team found that, in general, children had a milder immune reaction to the virus than in adults. However, the subset of children with MIS-C had highly activated immune responses similar to that of adults, particularly CD8 T cells. They also found that patients with MIS-C had immature plasma B cells despite enough time passing for antibodies to develop. These insights are not only help drive strategies for the treatment of MIS-C, but also providing greater insight into the immune systems of child that may be leveraged to fight cancer in future

This September for Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, we look at new research, new treatments, and how we are working toward a future immune to childhood cancer.

Ask Your Immunotherapy Questions

Join Ellen Puré, PhD, of the University of Pennsylvania at the 2021 Virtual Immunotherapy Patient Summit on October 7–8, 2021, in a live discussion about the science behind immune-based treatments for cancer. This free event connects you with cancer patients and immunotherapy experts from the comfort of your own home.

Register for the virtual summit

Childhood Cancer Patient Story

At only two years old, Cole received a diagnosis of acute lymphoblastic leukemia. He endured three years of chemotherapy, but after five years, there was recurrence in both his bone marrow and spinal fluid. The next step in his cancer journey was receiving CAR T cell therapy, and luckily for Cole, it saved his life.

Read Cole’s Cancer Story

Childhood Cancer Scientist Spotlight

CRI CLIP Investigator Allison Frances O’Neill, MD, of Dana-Farber Cancer Institute has enlisted patients with relapsed or refractory HCC into a multi-institutional phase 2 clinical trial where they received treatment with checkpoint inhibition. She is studying the benefits of this method and aims to identify the tumor immune environment for patients' tumors.

Learn more about Dr. Allison Frances’s Childhood Cancer Research

Immunotherapy for Childhood Cancer Info Update

In October 2020, the FDA extended approval of pembrolizumab (Keytruda) for pediatric patients with refractory classical Hodkin lymphoma with two or more relapses of therapy. More immunotherapies for childhood cancer are in development. As the research and treatment landscape evolves, we keep our information up to date.

View Childhood Cancer Update

Find a Childhood Cancer Clinical Trial

A variety of new and promising cancer immunotherapy treatments are only available to patients in clinical trials. Help speed the development of potentially lifesaving drugs. Discover trials for which you or a loved one may be eligible with the CRI Immunotherapy Clinical Trial Finder.

Find a Cancer Clinical Trial

Support Childhood Cancer Research

CRI Fellow Nathan H. Roy, PhD, and CRI Scientific Advisory Council member Carl H. June, MD, of Children's Hospital of Philadelphia recently co-authored a study in Nature Medicine on the results of two pilot clinical trials, including one on children and young adults (ages 1-24) with relapsed or refractory acute lymphoblastic leukemia. They were testing a form of treatment using engineered T cells with a 4-1BB-based, CD22-targeting chimeric antigen receptor, or CAR. The research team discovered that tonic 4-1BB-based signaling benefits CAR function. This study also illustrates the efficiency of bedside-to-bench-to-bedside translation in the development and execution of CAR T cell therapies. This Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, support lifesaving cancer immunotherapy research. 

Donate to Childhood Cancer Research

Photo by MI PHAM on Unsplash

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