The pediatric cancer experts at UH Rainbow Babies & Children’s are on the leading edge of research and development of immunotherapy treatments, which use the body’s own immune system to fight cancer and other conditions in babies, children, adolescents and young adults.
Call to Schedule an Appointment TodayTo make an appointment with one of our pediatric cancer experts, call 216-844-3345.
What is Immunotherapy?
Also known as biological therapy, immunotherapy uses the body’s immune system to fight cancer. Because they originate and disguise in the body as normal cells, cancer cells often fail to be recognized as “foreign” by the immune system and are free to replicate out of control. Immunotherapies are designed to recognize and alert the immune system about these mutated and invasive cells so it can locate and destroy them. Immunotherapy may be an option for a growing number of cancers including leukemia, lymphoma, neuroblastoma, brain tumors, osteosarcoma and other forms of childhood cancers that are refractory or non-responsive to traditional treatments. It is often paired with other treatments and may work better for some than others.
Generating Cellular Therapies On-site at UH Seidman Cancer CenterImmunotherapy is the next frontier in cancer therapy. It uses the body’s own immune system to fight cancer. At University Hospitals Seidman Cancer Center, we are able to generate cellular therapies onsite, allowing us to get these cancer treatments to patients more quickly.
Why the HPV Vaccine is ImportantThe HPV Vaccine prevents about 30 percent of cancers in adults. John Letterio, MD, Division Chief, Pediatric Hematology and Oncology at University Hospitals Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospitals explains how this vaccine is a form of immunotherapy will allow us to eradicate many HPV-related cancers in our lifetime.
Benefits of Immunotherapy
Each year, more than 15,000 children and teens are diagnosed with cancer in the United States. Thanks to advancements in early diagnosis and treatment strategies, the overall survival rate stands at 80 percent today.
However, not all children respond to standard treatments such as chemotherapy, radiation and surgery, and late effects from these treatments can put them at risk for complications. In fact, the reality is that two out of every three survivors of childhood cancer develop at least one therapy-related complication which, in a quarter of patients, is severe or life-threatening.
Scientists have been studying cancer and other diseases for a long time and have learned that your own immune system may be the best defensive mechanism you have to fight off foreign invaders. Your body has the ability to protect you from illness and foreign substances that can harm you.
Uses of Immunotherapy
Scientists have found ways to use a child's immune system to help treat or prevent many health problems. Immunotherapy may be used to:
- Prevent illnesses
Routine vaccines are a type of immunotherapy. Vaccines get your immune system to learn to respond to a possible infection. Then your immune system will fight it off quickly if it ever sees the same infection in the future. Vaccines are made of proteins, DNA/RNA or tiny amounts of weakened or dead viruses and bacteria, so they shouldn’t make you sick.
- Prevent cancer
Cancer vaccines help protect against viruses that can cause some cancers. One example is the vaccine for human papillomavirus (HPV). This virus causes cervical cancer, as well as other cancers.
- Control asthma and allergy symptoms
Immunotherapy shots are often given if you have severe allergies or asthma. The shots start with a small amount of allergen. This helps your immune system build up a tolerance to that allergen. You are then less sensitive to the allergen and have fewer symptoms. An oral form of immunotherapy is available for food allergies. Talk with your health care provider to see which form of immunotherapy is best for you.
- Treat or manage cancer
Immunotherapy may be used with other treatments to help them work better. It works best to treat early-stage cancers but has also been shown to be successful in treating refractory, or treatment-resistant, cancers.
Conditions & Treatments
Immunotherapy shows promise in treating certain types of childhood cancers without the damaging, long-term side effects that can accompany more traditional treatments such as radiation and chemotherapy. Learn about the different types of immunotherapy and the cancers it is used to treat.
Innovative Care with Immunotherapy
The Center for Pediatric Immunotherapy at the Angie Fowler Adolescent & Young Adult Cancer Institute was established to leverage the power of immunotherapy, which is showing great promise in treating childhood cancers and reducing side effects. We are also researching ways to apply it to non-cancer conditions that are responsive to this type of therapy, including inflammatory and auto-immune diseases.
We are taking breakthrough research discoveries and speeding up development to bring new, life-extending treatments to our patients – quickly and efficiently.
- Expand access to promising immunotherapies for pediatric patients by establishing UH Rainbow immunotherapy research, innovation and clinical trials
- Demonstrate the safety and effectiveness of novel immunotherapies for pediatric cancer and blood disorders for a new standard of care with reduced side effects and better outcomes
- Leverage new knowledge about immunotherapies to expand treatments to other areas of pediatric disease, including allergy/immunology, neurology, autoimmune diseases and gastroenterology
CAR-T Cell, Natural Killer Cell & Other Leading-Edge Therapies, Delivered Quickly
The center’s laboratory, which generates CAR-T, NK cell and other cell-based and molecular-based therapies, is situated on-site in the Wolstein Research Building in the heart of Cleveland’s University Circle. The convenient location of the laboratory provides patients with access to the latest therapies and discoveries more quickly, when every minute counts.
To put this in perspective, UH Rainbow cell therapies can be manufactured and delivered in as few as eight days, compared to other commercially available cell-based therapies, which average 12 – 30 days from lab to bedside. And, with the on-site lab advantage, UH Rainbow physicians can also provide treatment to more patients than would otherwise be possible.
The physician-scientists at the UH Rainbow are at the forefront of research efforts to find, test and develop immunotherapy agents, which have unlimited potential and could, quite possibly, become the anti-cancer treatment of the future.