Jude Gets a New Chance at Life, Thanks to Groundbreaking Research and Financial Support from People Across the Country

Donations from all 50 states are helping expedite immunotherapy research that scientists believe has the ability to cure childhood cancer.

Aidan and Barbara Anderson of Tucson, Ariz., understand better than most the positive impact that research can have on families. Their 3-year-old son, Jude, was first diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL) in 2013 when he was just 18 months old. After relapsing twice, Jude was out of treatment options.

“We didn’t think Jude would be alive for Christmas,” said Barbara Anderson, 37. “Now he’s cancer free.”

Jude is part of the Pediatric Leukemia Adoptive Therapy (PLAT-02) immunotherapy clinical trial at Seattle Children’s, a trial that uses a breakthrough cancer treatment that is funded in part by Strong Against Cancer. Immunotherapy reprograms the body’s T-cells and reintroduces them into the immune system, where they hunt down and destroy cancer cells. Immunotherapy reduces the need for chemotherapy and radiation, along with the harsh side effects that often accompany those treatments, and has shown tremendous progress in the treatment of ALL in patients who have relapsed one or more times.

Seattle Children's announced in April that its PLAT-02 clinical trial achieved a 91% complete remission rate in 20 out of 22 children with relapsed leukemia. The 20 patients who achieved complete remission included children with very high tumor burdens as well as children who were diagnosed with ALL as infants. Since 2010, $13.9 million in donations made it possible for this life-saving cancer research to become available to more children faster. The donations, which have come from all 50 states, are being used to fund patient access to clinical trials as well as the research on immunotherapy.

"We are raising hope for thousands of young people all over the world who are battling cancer,” said Doug Picha, leader of Strong Against Cancer and president of Seattle Children’s Hospital and Research Foundation. “We are on the threshold of a cure based on immunotherapy, but we lack the necessary funds to provide this treatment to all of the young cancer patients who need it. Strong Against Cancer is helping us get there, but we still have a long way to go.”

With help from Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson, Strong Against Cancer has created a nationwide network of businesses and individual donors to fund this break-through research. The funding is helping pediatric cancer patients who qualify for the immunotherapy research trial to be treated at Seattle Children’s Hospital, with the goal of bringing the treatment to hospitals across the country.

"Our goal is to eventually offer immunotherapy to patients nationwide when they are first diagnosed with cancer,” said Dr. Mike Jensen, director of Ben Towne Center for Childhood Cancer Research and one of the pioneers of T-cell immunotherapy. “We don’t just want to cure kids of cancer; we want to cure them without the use of large doses of chemotherapy and radiation.”

Barbara Anderson said that her family is “incredibly grateful” for those who gave Jude a chance at life.

"Two or three years ago, there would have been no option for Jude other than hospice care,” she said. “Jude is alive because of this incredible research and the people who give money to organizations like Strong Against Cancer. We are so incredibly grateful to them all.”

About Strong Against Cancer

Strong Against Cancer is a nationwide initiative inspired by the immunotherapy discoveries at the Ben Towne Center for Childhood Cancer Research at Seattle Children’s Research Institute. This initiative is a team effort on the part of hospitals, researchers, doctors, nurses, corporations, organizations and individuals. The captain of the team is Russell Wilson, quarterback of the Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks, who learned about immunotherapy during his regular visits to Seattle Children’s Hospital. Clinical trials for this therapy are now underway and are producing exceptional results in eliminating childhood leukemia. The aim of the Strong Against Cancer team is to create a national philanthropic initiative with worldwide implications for curing childhood cancers through these immunotherapy treatments. For more information or to make a donation, visit strongagainstcancer.org

About Seattle Children’s

Consistently ranked as one of the best children’s hospitals in the country by U.S. News & World Report, Seattle Children’s serves as the pediatric and adolescent academic medical referral center for the largest landmass of any children’s hospital in the country (Washington, Alaska, Montana and Idaho). For more than 100 years, Seattle Children’s has been delivering superior patient care while advancing new treatments through pediatric research. Seattle Children’s serves as the primary teaching, clinical and research site for the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Washington School of Medicine. The hospital works in partnership with Seattle Children’s Research Institute and Seattle Children’s Hospital Foundation. For more information, visit www.seattlechildrens.org or follow us on Twitter or Facebook.