Cancer & Blood Disorders Institute

CAR-T Cell Therapy Program

Johns Hopkins All Children’s is the only pediatric hospital in Florida offering a cutting-edge treatment option for B-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia which uses the body's own T cells to fight cancer.

The Johns Hopkins All Children’s Cancer & Blood Disorders Institute offers CAR-T cell therapy to treat patients up to 25 years old who have B-cell precursor acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL). CAR-T therapy is used in rare cases that do not go into remission after receiving other leukemia treatments or in cases of later relapse. Our Cancer & Blood Disorders Institute is the first certified treatment center in Florida offering CAR T-cell therapy to patients.

What is CAR-T Cell Therapy?

CAR-T cell therapy, a type of cancer immunotherapy, is a new prescription cancer treatment that uses a patient’s own immune system to treat B-cell leukemia. KYMRIAH (tisagenlecleucel) is the first Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved CAR-T cell therapy in the United States.

How CAR-T Cell Therapy Works

  • Blood cells are removed from the child, frozen and sent to a lab to be genetically modified to recognize and destroy leukemia cells.
  • The lab separates the T-cells and then genetically modifies them.
  • This process involves giving the T-cells the ability to recognize a protein called CD19, which is present on your child’s cancerous B-cells.
  • After genetic modification is complete, the T-cells have the power to recognize the cancerous B-cells, attach to them, and destroy them.
  • These enhanced T-cells, now CAR-T cells (and named KYMRIAH), are put back into the patient and flow throughout the body to locate the cancerous B cells.
  • Once the CAR-T cells are put back into the body, they multiply and remain in the body to fight any new cancerous B cells.

What to Expect

Once your child is eligible to receive CAR T-cell therapy, he or she will need to be admitted to Johns Hopkins All Children’s when KYMRIAH is administered. The therapy may cause side effects, so we want to make sure your child is closely monitored during that time. After discharge, we will continue to follow your child during regularly scheduled clinic visits. 

Questions? Give us a call.

To learn more about CAR-T cell therapy at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital or for referral information, please call 727-767-6856.