Health Discoveries in Pediatric Cancer and Blood Disorders

Immunotherapy shows success in pediatrics cancer care

October 26, 2010
Immunotherapy administered to children with neuroblastoma, a cancer of the nervous system, significantly increased the number of children with the disease who were alive and free of disease progression after two years, according to a pediatrics study published recently in the New England Journal of Medicine.

A clinical trial coordinated by the Children's Oncology Group, a consortium of researchers supported by the National Cancer Institute (NCI), found that 66 percent of children who received immunotherapy and standard chemotherapy showed such improvement, compared to 46 percent who received standard cancer therapy only. The immunotherapy focused on the antibody ch14.18, which targets a substance on tumor cells.

Early phases of the study were so successful that participants within the control group receiving standard cancer therapy were switched to the immunology group early because of the therapy's strong results. In all, 226 children participated in the study.

"The phase III trial results establish ch14.18 immunotherapy as a new standard treatment for children with high-risk neuroblastoma," said Dr. Alice Yu, who chaired the clinical trial.

Within the North Shore-LIJ Health System, a pilot study is focusing on the effect of intensive chemotherapy and stem cell-based drug treatments in children who have been newly diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor.
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