Guilds Fund Lifesaving Research

Guild support for cancer clinical trials has already helped save lives. Now other clinical trials need our support.

Milton Wright Feature Story Spring 2014

Milton Wright's leukemia is in remission, thanks to a clinical trial that brought to life the vision of Dr. Mike Jensen and his team: "reprogramming" the body's immune system to fight cancer.

Last fall, Milton Wright, 20, suspected that his cancer was back, for the third time. Not wanting to worry his loved ones, he went to his appointment at Seattle Children's alone and learned that his leukemia had in fact returned - and that it was resistant to chemotherapy.

He feared the worst. "I was waiting for them to give me my six months," he recalls.

Then Seattle Children's oncologist Dr. Rebecca Gardner told Milton he was an ideal candidate for a cellular immunotherapy clinical trial underway at the Ben Towne Center for Childhood Cancer Research at Seattle Children's Research Institute. In the trial, one of two at Seattle Children's to use this new treatment for relapsed leukemia, a patient's own immune system is "reprogrammed" to fight cancer.

Milton enrolled in the trial, and two weeks after he completed treatment, his cancer was in remission. "I am so, so grateful," Milton says. "It was like a miracle."

Milton was the second patient to undergo cellular immunotherapy at Seattle Children's; for both, cancer is currently in remission. The $2 million in support from the Guild Association Funding Focus in fiscal years 2012 and 2013 helped make this possible.

Cutting-edge care through clinical trials

Cancer patients aren't the only patients who can benefit from potentially lifesaving clinical trials. Seattle Children's robust integration of research and clinical care is in full effect at the Center for Clinical and Translational Research, where an army of researchers facilitates clinical trials of treatments for conditions including diabetes, cystic fibrosis and vascular anomalies. They partner with doctors at the hospital, or, like Gardner, they are practicing physicians themselves, who ensure that their patients are informed of available clinical trials.

Patients do not pay for clinical trial costs that are not a part of standard care and insurance companies don't cover new treatments that are being evaluated. However, the costs to administer a clinical trial are significant and government grants are increasingly more difficult for researchers to obtain.

Your support is crucial in providing researchers with the resources they need to conduct clinical trials to find out if a new treatment should become the new standard of care. It enables them to develop innovative treatment options in the lab and bring them to children whose lives may be saved.

Your guild can help

Helping children get the care they need has always been at the heart of the Guild Association's mission. Now guilds have the opportunity to continue their essential work in a new way - by supporting clinical trials.

When your guild designates $2,500 of its annual proceeds to support clinical trials, it increases the number of trials we are able to open, and is a factor in how many children we can admit to a trial. This level of contribution will also make your guild a member of Research Champions, a donor membership program at Seattle Children's.

"Supporting clinical trials gives patients access to potentially lifesaving care," says Aileen Kelly, Guild Association executive director. "The more patients who have access to the research breakthroughs available through clinical trials, the better the chances kids everywhere will have happy, healthy futures."