Leukemia is the most common form of cancer in children. At the Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center in Baltimore, our multidisciplinary team of experts is highly skilled in treating children with these cancers. Our leukemia experts work closely with specialists at our Bone Marrow Transplant Program to co-manage patients who would benefit from bone marrow transplantation. They also work with specialists who treat leukemia in adult patients, ensuring a seamless transition and state-of-the-art care for teens and young adults with leukemia.
Pat Brown, M.D., director of the Pediatric Leukemia Program, leads a number of national and international clinical trials. One is a COG trial testing a novel drug developed at Johns Hopkins that targets mutations in a gene called FLT3, an important cause of blood cancers. FLT3 was first cloned in 1992 in the lab of Donald Small, M.D., Ph.D., director of pediatric oncology at the Kimmel Cancer Center. Since then, Dr. Small and colleagues have identified small molecules able to “turn off” the FLT3 gene receptor, targeting and killing cancer cells and leaving normal blood cells unharmed. These drugs are being tested in clinical trials in children and adults with various forms of leukemia.
Dr. Brown is also leading two trials for relapsed acute lymphocytic leukemia (ALL) - a TACL study of new drugs that work through recently discovered epigenetic mechanisms to “reprogram” the resistant cells and restore their sensitivity to chemotherapy, and a COG study that harnesses the power of the patient’s immune system to target and kill ALL cells. Finally, Dr. Brown co-chairs the National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) ALL panel, which has established the first national clinical practice guidelines for the treatment of adolescents and adults with ALL.
Meet Alexis When Alexis Whitner was four-years-old, fully immersed in the joyful intensity of early childhood, something else was going on inside of her. In the darkness and mystery of her bone marrow, something was terribly wrong and no one could see it.
Meet Austin “When children have cancer, “ Mark says, “they grow up a lot faster than their peers. They have to. Yes, Austin has cancer, but he’s never once said, ‘Cancer has me.’ When I think of everything he’s been through. . .” He looks at his stepson with pride. “Austin is my hero.”
Meet Clarissa Clarissa was too young to remember the first time she was treated for cancer, but she has vivid memories of the time, ten years later, when the cancer returned. She and a friend were in New York City with their moms, celebrating their upcoming thirteenth birthdays, when it became clear that Clarissa was gravely ill. Her mom, Chris, rushed her home to their pediatrician to hear, “Go immediately to the Johns Hopkins ER! They’re expecting you.”
Meet Zoe Zoe is a vibrant 13 year old with a wonderful sense of humor and tremendous athlete. She also enjoys rollerskating , playing video games on Nintendo Wii, and shopping. Zoe loves hanging out with her friends, especially her Aunt Susie.