With CureWorks launch, they keep fighting for kids every day

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10/22/2020

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Dr. Jodi Skiles: “Being part of the revolutionizing of leukemia care is exciting for us both as physicians and scientists, to really get to contribute to the field of knowledge about how to continue to conquer this really awful disease.”

By Maureen Gilmer, IU Health senior journalist, mgilmer1@iuhealth.org

Dr. Jodi Skiles and Audrey Hopper go to battle every day for kids stricken with aggressive, life-threatening cancers. They embrace the mantra Fight Like a Kid, and now they have a new weapon in their arsenal.

It’s called CureWorks, and it’s ready to launch at Riley Hospital for Children at IU Health.

A year ago, news that Riley would be part of the revolutionary program to treat stubborn cancers in kids sparked hope in families around Central Indiana and the entire Midwest.

Now that program is poised to kick off with three groundbreaking trials reserved for the sickest kids, those whose cancers can’t be conquered with more traditional treatments.

As one of the selected hospitals, Riley oncologists and Indiana University School of Medicine researchers will have greater access to cutting-edge immunotherapy trials for pediatric oncology patients. Member hospitals are supported in launching and participating in exclusive clinical trials. CureWorks streamlines immunotherapy production, clinical trial enrollment and the trial coordination process.

CureWorks is a unique collaboration among five elite children’s hospitals in North America. Riley is the only member hospital in the Midwest. Others in the network are Seattle Children’s, Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, Children’s National (Washington, D.C.) and BC Children’s Hospital (Vancouver, British Columbia).

OPENING TRIALS AT RILEY

Dr. Skiles, director of pediatric stem cell transplant and cellular therapy at Riley, said her team is on track to open two of the three planned CureWorks trials for patients with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) at Riley by next month.

All three trials essentially use CAR T-cell therapy in a modified way to overcome some of the challenges experienced with the commercially available product Kymriah. CAR T-cell therapy is a form of immunotherapy that uses specially altered T cells — a part of the immune system — to fight cancer.

The hope is that the new therapies will be more successful at not only getting kids into remission but sustaining that remission.

“There are two Riley patients xtagstartza

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