Seattle Children’s and Juno Therapeutics Accelerate T-Cell Immunotherapy Clinical Trials for Children and Adults With Deadly Brain Cancers

T-cell immunotherapy clinical trials targeting gliomas, the most common and deadly types of brain tumors, to open within the next two years

SEATTLE – May 25, 2016 – Seattle Children’s announced today that it has signed a letter of intent with Juno Therapeutics, Inc., to expand their collaboration to accelerate the availability of T-cell immunotherapy clinical trials for children and adults with brain tumors, known as gliomas. The aim of the collaboration is to fast-track clinical implementation with the goal of opening Phase 1 clinical trials within the next two years.

In children, brain cancer is the most common solid tumor cancer and the second most common cancer overall. More than half of all brain tumors in children are gliomas, which are tumors that grow in the supportive tissue of the brain. One form of glioma, glioblastoma multiforme, is the most aggressive and deadly form of brain cancer. Currently, there are limited treatment options and most people diagnosed with glioblastoma multiforme will die within a year.

“This is a devastating disease, and there is a major unmet need for effective and safe therapies for brain tumors and cancers that metastasize to the brain,” said Dr. Mike Jensen, director of Ben Towne Center for Childhood Cancer Research at Seattle Children's Research Institute. “Current treatments for brain tumors like radiation can do irreparable harm, especially on a child’s developing brain, and greatly diminish the quality of life for survivors. We believe the immune system holds the promise of offering safe and effective treatment of brain cancers, while preserving brain function.”

To accelerate the development of immunotherapy for gliomas, Jensen, a pioneer in cancer immunotherapy, will apply what his team has learned from the success of the Pediatric Leukemia Adoptive Therapy (PLAT-02) trial for children with relapsed or refractory acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL). He and his team will also build on previous achievements in using the IL 13-Zetakine antigen receptor to genetically reprogram T cells to attack glioblastoma multiforme.

“Taking all that we’ve learned and working to bring another treatment option for patients with solid tumors is an exciting milestone in our mission to harness the power of the immune system to seek and destroy all cancers for patients across the globe,” said Jensen. “There is still work to be done and we are grateful to key supporters like Juno that are integral in helping us achieve this goal.”

Jensen and his team will manufacture the T cells for the pediatric and adult glioma trials at the Ben Towne Center for Childhood Cancer Research, which has seen great success in reprogramming T cells for cancer treatment. The pediatric clinical trial will be offered at Seattle Children’s Hospital.

The expanded collaboration furthers Juno’s support of Seattle Children’s immunotherapy trials, which has included the sponsorship of research and a license agreement with respect to CAR T-cell technology developed at Seattle Children's Research Institute.

The T-cell immunotherapy trials at Seattle Children’s are funded in part by Strong Against Cancer, a national philanthropic initiative with worldwide implications for curing childhood cancers through immunotherapy treatments. If you are interested in supporting the advancement of this medical breakthrough, please visit Strong Against Cancer’s donation page.

For more information on immunotherapy research trials at Seattle Children's, please call (206) 987-2106 or email immunotherapy@seattlechildrens.org.

About Seattle Children’s

Seattle Children’s mission is to provide hope, care and cures to help every child live the healthiest and most fulfilling life possible. Together, Seattle Children’s Hospital, Research Institute and Foundation deliver superior patient care, identify new discoveries and treatments through pediatric research, and raise funds to create better futures for patients.

Ranked as one of the top five children’s hospitals in the country by U.S. News & World Report, Seattle Children’s serves as the pediatric and adolescent academic medical center for Washington, Alaska, Montana and Idaho – the largest region of any children’s hospital in the country. As one of the nation's top five pediatric research centers, Seattle Children’s Research Institute is internationally recognized for its work in neurosciences, immunology, cancer, infectious disease, injury prevention and much more. Seattle Children’s Hospital and Research Foundation works with the Seattle Children’s Hospital Guild Association, the largest all-volunteer fundraising network for any hospital in the country, to gather community support and raise funds for uncompensated care and research.

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