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Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center / Centers & Clinics

Pediatric Oncology

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CAR-T Cell Therapy Program

What is Cancer Immunotherapy?


Cancer immunotherapy is a treatment which uses a patient’s own immune system to fight cancer.  CAR-T cell therapy is a type of cancer immunotherapy that has been developed to treat B-cell leukemia.  It involves genetically modifying certain immune cells to be able to recognize and destroy leukemia cells. 

What are CAR-T cells and how do they work?

KYMRIAH (tisagenlecleucel) is the first FDA approved CAR-T cell therapy in the U.S. KYMRIAH can be used to treat patients up to 25 years old who have B-cell precursor acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) that is refractory or in second or later relapse.  This therapy involves taking your child’s blood in order to obtain T-cells, which are a certain type of immune cell.  T-cells are naturally designed to attack foreign cells in the body.   After your child’s blood is collected, it will be frozen and sent to the lab.  The lab separates the T-cells and then genetically modifies them.  This process involves giving the T-cells the ability to recognize a protein called CD19, which is present on your child’s cancerous B-cells.  After genetic modification is complete, the T-cells have the power to recognize the cancerous B-cells, attach to them, and destroy them.  These enhanced T-cells, now CAR-T cells and named KYMRIAH, are then given back to your child in order to carry out their new function against the leukemia cells.

What to Expect

Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center's Division of Pediatric Oncology is one of the few Cancer Centers throughout the United States administering KYMRIAH to patients. Johns Hopkins pediatric oncologists see patients in Johns Hopkins Children’s Center. Once your child is eligible to receive treatment, they will need to be admitted to the hospital when KYMRIAH is administered for safety reasons.  There are potential side effects that could occur, so we want to make sure your child is closely monitored during that time.  After discharge, we will continue to follow your child during regularly scheduled clinic visits.  

Referral Information

To learn more about CAR-T Cell Therapy at Johns Hopkins for your child, please call 1-855-434-1928 and/or send an email to