Lancaster Physician Fall 2017 - 7

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Breakthrough Immunotherapy Treatment

Local patients now
have direct access to a
groundbreaking new
treatment for cancer.
In a landmark decision for the field of
cancer immunotherapy, the U.S. Food
and Drug Administration recently
approved a personalized cellular therapy
for advanced leukemia developed by the
University of Pennsylvania and Children's
Hospital of Philadelphia.
The chimeric antigen receptor (CAR)
T-cell therapy, Kymriah™ (tisagenlecleucel)
is the first therapy based on gene transfer
approved by the FDA. Kymriah is approved
for patients up to age 25 who have B-cell
precursor acute lymphoblastic leukemia
(ALL) that is refractory or in second or
later relapse.
ALL is the most common childhood cancer. About 20 percent of the 3,500 pediatric
and young adult patients diagnosed each
year in the United States relapse or do not
respond to conventional treatment.
Investigators at Penn's Perelman
School of Medicine and CHOP, who
together led research, development and
clinical trials of Kymriah in collaboration with Novartis, hailed the approval
as a game-changer for the treatment of
younger patients battling the aggressive
blood cancer and a pivotal milestone in
a new era of cellular therapies that treat
cancer with a patient's own immune system.

"This is a turning point in the fight against
B-cell ALL that opens up opportunities for
patients across the world who desperately
need new options," said Carl June, MD,
the Richard W. Vague Professor in Immunotherapy in the department of Pathology
and Laboratory Medicine at the Perelman
School of Medicine and director of the
Center for Cellular Immunotherapies in
the Abramson Cancer Center.
Kymriah is now in routine and experimental use at CHOP and the Hospital of the
University of Pennsylvania. It is expected to
be available later this year through a network
of certified treatment centers throughout
the United States.
Medical Director of Oncology Randall A.
Oyer, MD, said LG Health's membership in
Penn Medicine will provide local patients
with immediate access to Penn oncology
physicians to be evaluated for Kymriah
treatment and expanded indications currently being studied in adults.
"Penn's discovery of the world's first living
drug to treat cancer brings new hope to patients
and families," he said. "LG Health patients
have direct access to this landmark discovery
and other cutting-edge medical research."
The new treatment modifies patients'
own immune T cells into "hunter" cells

that multiply and attack leukemia cells. The
army of hunter cells can grow to more than
10,000 new cells for each single engineered
cell patients receive, producing high remission rates in completely refractory leukemia
and surviving in the body for years.
"[The original patient's] cancer remains in
remission, and in larger trials, we're seeing
overall remission rates over 80 percent,
which is a remarkable improvement upon
previous treatment success rates," said
lead investigator of the CHOP and global
trials of the therapy, Stephan Grupp, MD,
PhD, the Yetta Deitch Novotny Professor
of Pediatrics at Penn and director of the
Cancer Immunotherapy Frontier Program
and chief of the section of Cell Therapy and
Transplant at CHOP.
Dr. June said researchers hope the
momentum behind the technology builds
as they continue to investigate the abilities
of personalized cellular therapeutics in blood
cancers and solid tumors to help patients
with many other types of cancer.
Trials are underway in the Abramson
Cancer Center for adult patients with
ALL, chronic lymphocytic leukemia, and
non-Hodgkin lymphoma. Penn and Novartis
also are investigating the next generation
of CAR therapies for multiple myeloma,
and for solid tumors, through trials in
glioblastoma, mesothelioma, and ovarian
and pancreatic cancers. Other CAR trials at
Penn are exploring the technique for prostate cancer, melanoma, and triple-negative
breast cancer.
"The FDA approval of Kymriah is an
unprecedented launching point for the
important field of immunotherapy," Dr.
Oyer said. "Penn is well on its way to being
a world leader in the field. Lancaster patients
will benefit from direct access to this and
other breakthrough medical science."

For more information, including referrals,
please call 877-937-PENN (7366).
LANCASTER

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Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Lancaster Physician Fall 2017

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