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AHCI Bone and Marrow Transplant Team First to Treat Relapsed Acute Myeloid Leukemia Patient with Antigen-Specific-T-Cell Therapy

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AHCI Bone and Marrow Transplant Team First to Treat Relapsed Acute Myeloid Leukemia Patient with Antigen-Specific-T-Cell Therapy

First in World Leukemia Clinical Trial


Allogeneic stem cell transplantation is one of the standard treatments for patients with acute myeloid leukemia (AML) who are eligible for intensive therapy. Despite numerous improvements in this treatment modality over the past two decades, up to 50% of AML patients relapse. Unfortunately, there is no clear standard of care when this happens, and the two-year survival rate after relapse is less than 20%. As a result, novel therapies are needed to improve patient outcomes.

In late April, AdventHealth Orlando was the site of the first successful Antigen-Specific T-Cell therapy treatment, which uses immune cells to target cancer cells, providing a potentially lifesaving result to acute myeloid leukemia (AML) and myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS) patients whose cancer relapsed after an allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplant (HSCT). This was part of a clinical trial, and so far, the patient is doing well with no side effects, but he continues to be monitored.

AHCI's Juan Varela, MD, has been developing this therapy since 2013 when he was at Johns Hopkins University and has collaborated with the startup biotech company NexImmune to be able to bring this treatment to patients. Antigen-Specific T-Cells are made by removing white blood cells from a donor (who had previously donated stem cells to the patient), generating immune cells that are tumor-specific, and then infusing the generated cells back into the patient's bloodstream. Antigen-Specific T-Cells are able to attack specific cancer cells.

The clinical trial is being offered to six additional patients over the next few months at other cancer treatment facilities across the country. Once those first six patients are treated, enrollment will continue for more patients who are eligible for the trial. The goal is to make this therapy available to other patients with AML and MDS who have had relapsed disease after an HSCT.

For more information or to refer a patient, call one of our Bone Marrow Transplant Nurse Navigators at 407-303-2825.

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