An Update from Dr. Michael Jensen
Director of the Ben Towne Center for Childhood Cancer Research
Imagine the energy at Ben Towne Center for Childhood Cancer Research when Milton paid us a visit last week! The juxtaposition of “what” we are trying to accomplish with the “who” we are trying to help is perfectly captured in this photo of our T cell trial patient #2, Milton Wright III, and our BTCCCR team of T cell manufacturing experts who, with their steady hands, made Milton’s reprogrammed T cells that gave him a remission from leukemia. While bricks, glass, mortar, air handlers, and clean room “bunny” suits separated them physically, I guarantee you their hearts were all in their throats. Beautiful moment.
So our mighty T cell team is ramping into high gear. Patient #3 and #4 (our first patient treated on the PLAT-02 trial for post-transplant relapsed leukemia) have been infused with their reprogrammed T cells and we are anxiously awaiting the results. Meanwhile Dr. Gardner is getting patient referrals not only from the Seattle area and the Pacific Northwest, but from patients/parents from Oregon, California, Arizona, Wisconsin, Canada, and the United Kingdom. Our trial is rapidly becoming an internationally sought after treatment option for parents of children in the most dire circumstances of relapsed and chemotherapy resistant leukemia. We are redoubling our efforts to staff our biotech T cell production facility at BTCCCR with many more hands working day and night shifts– 24/7, to keep up with the demand.
Meanwhile back in the lab (affectionately referred to as the “woodshed”, Drs. Kuenkele and Park are advancing the work needed to bring our first trial for neuroblastoma to the FDA. I believe we are on track for submitting the blessed IND (Investigational New Drug) application to the FDA this June for a (fingers crossed) July-August enrollment of our first neuroblastoma patient. The woodshed is also busy with an array of other projects focused on brain tumors and sarcomas. We have built terrific collaboration with the bioengineers at UW to help us create T cells with artificial intelligence for getting rid of cancer cells and to grow T cells in microfluidic chips. Really really cool stuff.
So, BTF supporters, we are reaping the first harvest from your generosity. We have big goals that lay ahead and your continued support will be the engine that gets us to where we want our children’s future to be — cancer free.
With utmost gratitude-
Yours, Dr J