CAR T Cell Therapy and a Turning Point in Treatment: News From the Dream Team

by Becky C. Weaver, Chief Mission Officer, St. Baldrick's Foundation
August 1, 2017

As one of the most exciting projects supported by St. Baldrick’s – the SU2C-St. Baldrick’s Pediatric Cancer Dream Team – nears the end of its funding, a group of expert reviewers met at Stanford University on July 14th to evaluate its impact to date. To say they were impressed would be an understatement.

The Dream Team

Members of the Dream Team gather at a meeting in July to discuss the impact of their research efforts.

The day began with a report from Dr. Stephan Grupp, director of the Cancer Immunotherapy Program at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.

He had flown to the Dream Team meeting straight from the Maryland headquarters of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), where hundreds had packed a hearing room the day before. An FDA advisory panel was considering what could soon be the first gene therapy to be marketed in the United States, pioneered by Dr. Grupp and his colleagues.

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Stop, Collaborate and Listen: How Teamwork Makes the Dream Team Work

by Erinn Jessop, St. Baldrick's Foundation
March 16, 2017

When people come together for a cause, incredible things happen. That’s true for St. Baldrick’s head-shaving events AND for the lifesaving work done by St. Baldrick’s researchers, especially the Stand Up To Cancer - St. Baldrick’s Pediatric Dream Team. As they say, teamwork makes the dream work! Read on to learn more about how cooperation and sharing between these researchers means big advances for kids with cancer.

St. Baldrick's - Stand Up To Cancer Pediatric Cancer Dream Team

They say two heads are better than one. But what about 149? That is how many brilliant brains are working together to conquer childhood cancers as part of the SU2C – St. Baldrick’s Pediatric Cancer Dream Team.

And it’s that cooperation that’s accelerating progress for kids and laying the foundation for better treatments and for cures, said Dr. Crystal Mackall and Dr. John Maris, co-leaders of the Dream Team.

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The Kid With Superhero Cells: Leon’s Immunotherapy Story

by Erinn Jessop, St. Baldrick's Foundation
February 21, 2017

Honored Kid Leon is one tough cookie. He’s fought childhood cancer not just once, but twice, and this time, Leon and his family hope it’s gone for good — thanks to an immunotherapy trial run by Leon’s buddy Dr. Daniel Lee, an investigator with the Stand Up to Cancer – St. Baldrick’s Dream Team.

Dr. Lee and Leon

Leon and St. Baldrick’s researcher Dr. Daniel Lee share some smiles.

Everything changed one hot summer day in Colorado. Leon was spraying his cousins with a water gun and playing with the hose. Then the 9-year-old slipped on the slick deck and fell hard.

It was a badly bruised hip, said the doctors in the emergency room. It will heal. But it didn’t. Leon’s grandmother, Lisa, watched her normally active grandson walk gingerly and even resort to crutches.

Then she watched Leon get tired more quickly than a kid should. And then she watched him sleep. He slept and slept.

“And I knew then,” Lisa said. “I was like, ‘I think he’s sick again.’”

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‘Pura Vida!’: Phineas’ Summer in Costa Rica

by Carlos Sandi
September 19, 2016

Ambassador Phineas’ dad, Carlos, shares what the family has been up to this past summer, and he looks back at where their family was 10 years ago — and where they might be now if it weren’t for the immunotherapy clinical trial that saved Phineas’ life.

Phineas Costa Rica water

Ten years ago I was nearing the end of the worst summer of my life.

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Kids with Cancer

‘My One Ticket to Live On’: How a Clinical Trial Saved Mitch Carbon’s Life

by Erinn Jessop, St. Baldrick's Foundation
September 9, 2016

Like most college freshmen, Mitch Carbon is excited to be getting a fresh start. But unlike his peers, just two years ago, he didn’t think he’d live to see this day. Read on for more of Mitch’s story and the clinical trial that saved his life — all made possible by YOU.

Mitch hugs his dad

When Mitch Carbon was a junior in high school, he was preparing to die.

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The History of Childhood Cancer Research

by Erinn Jessop, St. Baldrick's Foundation
September 11, 2015

In honor of Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, we are looking back through the decades at the milestones in research that have brought us to where we are today, and we are looking to the future — made brighter for kids with cancer because of you!

Dr. Sidney Farber meets with a patient

Dr. Sidney Farber examines a young patient. Photo from the National Institutes of Health

The childhood cancer research world we know today owes itself to the progress of the 1950s and 1960s.

It was a time “when people really began to believe that you could take a swipe at cancer,” said Dr. Crystal Mackall of the National Cancer Institute. Dr. Mackall is co-chair of the Stand Up to Cancer – St. Baldrick’s Pediatric Cancer Dream Team, which is working to develop new, targeted therapies for kids with difficult-to-treat cancers.

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Immunotherapy Patient Celebrates One Year of Remission

by Rebecca Bernot, St. Baldrick's Foundation
August 11, 2014

When a 23-year-old leukemia patient ran out of treatment options, she joined an immunotherapy clinical trial supported by the St. Baldrick’s Foundation. You can help fund the research that saved her life. Get involved.

Lynsie Conradi after T cell immunotherapy treatment

Lynsie after undergoing the immunotherapy treatment that saved her life.

When Lynsie Conradi’s leukemia relapsed for the third time, her doctors told her she had, at best, six months to live.

It was hardly the news the 23-year-old expected to hear after having spent so much of the last eight years fighting for her life.

Lynsie had been diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia, or ALL, when she was 15. She fought it into remission twice. But by the third time it came around, her doctors told her it had become resistant to chemotherapy.

The standard treatment for relapsed ALL involves a bone marrow transplant, but Lynsie would have to be in remission for them to do the transplant. It seemed her only option was to hope for a miracle.

That is, until her doctors told her about a new phase 1 immunotherapy clinical trial funded in part by the St. Baldrick’s Foundation.

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The Dream Team’s First Year

by Becky C. Weaver, Chief Mission Officer, St. Baldrick's Foundation
August 1, 2014

Pediatric Cancer Dream Team
Last week I was part of the first annual review of the Stand Up to Cancer – St. Baldrick’s Pediatric Cancer Dream Team.

The review took place at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP), and reporting for the Dream Team were co-leaders Dr. John M. Maris, director of the Center for Childhood Cancer Research at CHOP, and Dr. Crystal Mackall, chief of the Pediatric Oncology Branch of the National Cancer Institute (NCI).

The review panel included representatives from Stand Up to Cancer (SU2C), our partner in making this $14.5 million grant; the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR); and of course St. Baldrick’s.

I am excited to report that this Dream Team seems to be making more rapid progress than most. This is partly due to the fact that researchers in childhood cancer are more accustomed to working with colleagues from multiple institutions than are researchers in the adult oncology world.

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The Dream Team’s Progress Explained by a Non-Scientist

by Becky C. Weaver, Chief Mission Officer, St. Baldrick's Foundation
April 7, 2014

One year ago today, the St. Baldrick’s Foundation announced the Stand Up to Cancer – St. Baldrick’s Pediatric Cancer Dream Team, a group of the best and brightest pediatric oncology researchers focused on developing innovative therapies for childhood cancers. Becky Weaver, chief philanthropy officer of the St. Baldrick’s Foundation, shares this update on the Dream Team’s work.

Dr. Crystal Mackall at the Stand Up to Cancer Scientific Summit

Dr. Crystal Mackall, co-chair of the Stand Up to Cancer – St. Baldrick’s Pediatric Cancer Dream Team, speaks at the Stand Up to Cancer Scientific Summit.

If you’re not a scientist and you want to know what the Dream Team is up to, I’m your guide.

To learn about the Dream Team’s first six months of progress, I went to the Stand Up to Cancer (SU2C) Scientific Summit in Pasadena, California. The St. Baldrick’s Foundation is the first pediatric cancer organization to partner with SU2C to fund a Dream Team. Representatives from other funding partners were there, too.

There we sat in a room full of people so smart they made my head spin. So if they can make me understand what’s going on, I can pass it along and you’ll be just fine.

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A Six-Month Childhood Cancer Research Progress Report from the Dream Team

by St. Baldrick's Foundation
April 7, 2014

Dr. Crystal L. Mackall and Dr. John M. Maris, co-chairs of the Stand Up to Cancer – St. Baldrick’s Pediatric Cancer Dream Team, explain the Dream Team’s children’s cancer research goals and how they’ve been working to meet them.

Stand Up to Cancer - St. Baldrick's Pediatric Cancer Dream Team Update
The Dream Team: Background

Cure rates for childhood cancer haven’t improved for the last 20 years, and for some childhood cancers, less than 20% of patients survive. Current treatments for childhood cancer often cause lifelong side effects. We need new, more effective treatments for childhood cancers.

Cancer genomics is the field of research designed to define the genetic reasons that cancer arises in the first place, and behaves aggressively in some patients.

Immunotherapy is an approach to treating cancer that harnesses the power of the body’s immune system to kill cancer cells.

Pediatric cancer researchers in both fields have made exciting recent advances, but historically these have occurred in parallel with little cross-fertilization.

The St. Baldrick’s – Stand Up to Cancer Pediatric Cancer Dream Team is made up of researchers from seven institutions in North America whose goal is to create new immune-based therapies for pediatric cancer based on the individual patient’s tumor genomics and what makes the cancer cells different from the rest of the body.

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