Pediatric CAR T-Cell Program

The Pediatric CAR T-Cell Therapy Program at Smilow Cancer Hospital brings an innovative new immunotherapy treatment option to patients with certain blood cancers. Chimeric Antigen Receptor (CAR) T-cell therapy reprograms a patient’s own T-cells to target tumor antigens. CAR T-cell therapy has shown complete remission rates of 80 to 90 percent in patients with B-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia and 40 percent in patients with aggressive B-cell non-Hodgkin’s lymphomas who have failed multiple prior lines of treatment. The groundbreaking therapy is currently only available in Connecticut at Smilow Cancer Hospital.

The pediatric program’s Director is Niketa Shah, MD, Assistant Professor of Pediatric Hematology and Oncology. At this time, the therapy is only FDA-approved for patients with childhood (up to age 25) acute lymphoblastic leukemia, the most common cancer in children, or adult B-cell non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. However, researchers at Yale are conducting clinical trials to test new CAR T-cell therapies against other cancers, and Dr. Shah expects CAR T-cell therapies to be approved for a wider array of lymphomas and leukemias.

A large multidisciplinary team is involved in the care of patients receiving this therapy, including a transplant team, a cell collection and processing unit, the Intensive Care Unit, Pharmacy, Social Work, and access to our TeleHealth program for home evaluations. All patients are closely monitored for any side effects following therapy, and patients and families are given extensive education on how to safely continue care at home.