Network to deliver cutting-edge therapy for cancer patients

Children in NSW will now no longer have to travel to the US or interstate for special immunotherapy used to treat aggressive acute lymphoblastic leukemia.

This week the Ministry of Health confirmed the Network’s bid for the establishment of specialist immune effector cell (IEC) translational centres in NSW was successful.

“We’ve had a number of patients travel to the US for this therapy, that will now be able to be received locally,” said A/Prof Tracey O’Brien, Head of the Kids Cancer Centre at Sydney Children’s Hospital, Randwick.

“It’s an incredibly exciting initiative to be able to deliver cutting-edge CAR T-cell therapy to children with cancer in NSW.”

The immunotherapy called Kymriah®, which will be delivered at the translational centres, harnesses the power of the immune system to attack cancer cells.

“This is the most breakthrough therapy in the treatment of aggressive acute lymphoblastic leukemia that we’ve seen in decades and it’s great news it will now be available in NSW,” A/Prof O’Brien said.

The panel commended the strong collaborative approach across paediatric facilities at Randwick and Westmead and recognised the strengths and expertise that exists across the Network.

The Kids Cancer Centre’s commercial product arrangements are almost complete, the IEC translational centre will be established at Sydney Children’s Hospital Randwick first, with the Cancer Centre for Children at Westmead to progress with a similar approach over coming months.

“The establishment of the SCHN Paediatric Network Translational Centre represents a major commitment by NSW Health that ensures access for children and adolescents, to innovative treatments that are research tested and driven,” said Dr Luciano Dalla-Pozza, Head of the Cancer Centre for Children at Westmead.

“We fully expect the Translational Centres to extend such therapies to other forms of child cancer. This will inevitably further improve outcomes,” Dr Dalla-Pozza said. 

A new research trial using Kymriah® to treat lymphoma is also about to begin at SCH and there are plans for future trials in other types of cancers, including brain and solid tumours using other immune effector cells.

For more on cancer services across the Sydney Children’s Hospitals Network see our website here.

Photo credit: Sloan Kettering Cancer Centre; courtesty of Prasad Adusumilli