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Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Phase II Clinical Trial Approved & JUNO THERAPEUTICS

Ben Towne Center for Childhood Cancer Research Profile from ben towne foundation on Vimeo.

Just before Christmas, we received this good news from the Ben Towne Center for Childhood Cancer Research's Jensen Lab (which the Katie Gerstenberger Endowment supports):
“The FDA’s authorization of our second pediatric leukemia T cell therapy protocol is a milestone for the Ben Towne Center for Childhood Cancer Research. This trial will allow us to treat patients age 12 months-27 years of age who are in the worst possible situation—relapse after bone marrow transplantation.  We will be able to enroll and treat patients on an accelerated time table with our latest version of the reprogrammed T cell product that was developed in our laboratories here at BTCCCR with the help of our generous donors.  One exciting element of this trial called PLAT-02 is that it is a combined Phase I trial to establish safety that then rolls in to a larger Phase II trial to establish efficacy. 

"We know for many children that we treat, this will be their last chance to beat their leukemia.” - Michael C. Jensen, MD
Dr. Rebecca Gardner (who speaks in the video above) was one of Katie's doctors.
Dr. Pollard on the left, Katie and Dr. Gardner on the right, December 2006
 And there is more good news: the formation of "a new biotechnology company focused on bringing forward novel immunotherapies for cancer," called Juno Therapeutics. This is a joint venture of Seattle Children's Research Institute (of which the BTCCCR is part), Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center and Memorial Sloan-Kettering. You can visit their website to learn more:
The site contains press releases with fabulous news of over $145 million in venture capital committed to supporting this research. You can access the press releases here:

Two scientists who we know personally (and admire deeply), Kendall Mohler, Ph.D. and Dr. Michael Jensen, are key  members of the Juno team. I am thrilled to know that the torch is being carried by such compassionate, brilliant, talented, accomplished scientists. 

The potential of this venture is unlimited. It is what I dreamed might be possible in the first dark months after Katie's passing. To see it happening, right here in Seattle, is truly a dream-come-true, and an answer to prayers.