CD19 Delta Ex2 Isoform as a Target for Alternative Therapies in Relapsed Pediatric B-ALL
B-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia (B_ALL leukemia) is one of the most common childhood cancers. In this type of blood cancer, the immune cells responsible for the production of antibodies that protect us from infections (B-cells) are dividing uncontrollably. There are treatment options for kids diagnosed with this type of cancer, however, too often the disease will stop responding to drugs (resistance) leading to further progression (relapse). There has been an exciting progress in recent years in treating this resistant form of childhood leukemia. We have learned how to harvest the power of the kid's own immune system by instructing it to recognize and destroy the cancer (CD19 immunotherapy). This revolutionary new therapy has been incredibly successful with almost 9 out of 10 patients being completely cured.
Unfortunately, in 10-20% of treated children the leukemia is able to become invisible (leukemia cells don't have CD19) for the instructed immune system, which leads to yet another reoccurrence and progression of the disease. Sadly, there are almost no treatment options left for attacking childhood leukemia that has become invisible to the immunotherapy.
We believe that we have found a way to make the leukemia cells visible to the kids’ own immune system again. If we are successful, we will be able to prevent reoccurrence and increased the cure rates for this devastating childhood cancer.
Novel immunotherapies are proving to be lifesaving tools in the fight against pediatric cancers. The support from ALSF will allow us to study why immunotherapies sometimes do not work and to develop strategies to treat and cure patients that would otherwise have limited options. Thank you ALSF for continuing to bring us closer to curing pediatric cancers! - Asen Bagashev, PhD