Dr Sarah Tasian Highlights Exciting New Advances Coming to Pediatric AML

Sarah Tasian, MD, attending physician in the Division of Oncology at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, highlights the coming advances in pediatric acute myeloid leukemia (AML) that she is the most excited for.

Why are antibody-based and cellular immunotherapies expected to advance the field and improve outcomes for these patients?
So, I think some of these immunotherapies are the most exciting things in development. We are just on the cusp right now of bringing a lot of these medications to children. Our first experience was primarily with gemtuzumab, and we had demonstrated in a prior Children's Oncology Group phase 3 trial that the addition of gemtuzumab to chemotherapy was safe, intolerable, and improved relapse risk in some of our patients. We're actually moving that forward to all newly diagnosed patients in a planned new phase 3 Children's Oncology Group trial.

Where I'm probably the most excited, though, are some of these 5 specific antibodies that are T-cell engagers, cellular immunotherapies, like CAR [chimeric antigen receptor] T cells, NK [natural killer] cells, as well as some of the antibody drug conjugates. I think we know that chemotherapy resistance for children with AML is huge. And simply, as we mentioned before, intensifying chemotherapy further isn't going to overcome that. And I think we really need new medications that have alternative mechanisms of action to overcome that chemotherapy resistance.

Getting children to transplant for us is really important. Sometimes you can't get a child safely to transplant or the child has a very high risk of relapsing immediately after transplant. And so, some of these immunotherapies, I hope, will be better poised to get children into an MRD [minimal residual disease]-negative remission and then get them to transplant.
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