Pediatrics In The News

March 29, 2018
Pediatric cancer drug shows 93 percent response rate

A first-of-its-kind drug targeting a fused gene found in many types of cancer was effective in 93 percent of pediatric patients tested, researchers at UT Soutnwestern's Simmons Cancer Center announced.

Most cancer drugs are targeted to specific organs or locations in the body. Larotrectinib is the first cancer drug to receive FDA breakthrough therapy designation for patients with a specific fusion of two genes in the cancer cell, no matter what cancer type. The research appears in The Lancet Oncology.

“In some cancers, a part of the TRK gene has become attached to another gene, which is called a fusion. When this occurs, it leads to the TRK gene being turned on when it’s not supposed to be and that causes the cells to grow uncontrollably. What’s unique about the drug is it is very selective; it only blocks TRK receptors,” said lead author Dr. Ted Laetsch, Assistant Professor of Pediatrics and with the Harold C. Simmons Comprehensive Cancer CenterRead more

February 28, 2018
MMK Foundation makes $1 million gift to Children's Health, UT Southwestern Medical Center

The MMK Foundation, founded by Mark and Marcia King, has pledged $1 million to be split equally between Children’s Health and UT Southwestern Medical Center for the purpose of enhancing the pediatric hospital’s neonatal ICU, furthering groundbreaking research at UT Southwestern and providing unrestricted funds for the critical needs of children. Read more

February 21, 2018
Drug targeting mutant cancer gene is highly effective, durable

A drug targeting a gene fusion that occurs in lung, colon, and other cancers was effective in 75 percent of patients of all ages in clinical trials, and an even higher percentage of pediatric patients, researchers at UT Southwestern’s Simmons Cancer Center announced. The drug is being given fast-track consideration by the Food and Drug Administration.

The drug, larotrectinib, targets TRK-fusion, which can occur in lung, colon, thyroid, and many other types of cancer, said Dr. Ted Laetsch of UT Southwestern’s Department of Pediatrics and the Harold C. Simmons Comprehensive Cancer Center. Dr. Laetsch led the pediatric arm of the clinical trial for the study, which appears in the New England Journal of MedicineRead more

February 14, 2018
CAR-T clinical trial enrolling multiple myeloma patients

UT Southwestern Medical Center is one of nine exclusive sites in the country enrolling multiple myeloma patients for a clinical trial of the CAR-T “living drug” therapy for cancer. CAR-T therapy (chimeric antigen receptor T-cell therapy) is an innovative immunotherapy that uses a re-engineered version of the patient’s own immune cells to fight cancer. A UT Southwestern cancer researcher who was among the first patients to be treated, has now been cancer-free for two years.

As one of just 49 in the country designated a Comprehensive Cancer Center by the National Cancer Institute and the only one in North Texas, UT Southwestern’s Harold C. Simmons Comprehensive Cancer Center is offering both treatments and clinical trials in several critical areas:

  • Dr. Ted Laetsch, Assistant Professor of Pediatrics, led the only clinical trial site in the Southwest for a CAR-T treatment for acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL). Results from the trial resulted in FDA approval for the first CAR-T therapy, and Dr. Laetsch is now treating ALL patients who are 25 and under with this CAR-T therapy at the Pauline Allen Gill Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders at Children's Health.
  • In November, the FDA approved a CAR-T treatment for lymphoma, and UT Southwestern physicians soon will be offering this treatment to patients through the Bone Marrow Transplantation/Hematologic Malignancies Clinic at the Simmons Cancer Center.
  • As new uses for CAR-T continue to be explored, leadership and guidance on how and when to use these treatments also is needed. Dr. Ankit Kansagra, Assistant Professor of Internal Medicine, is co-leader of the Global CAR-T Initiative, a group of physicians who are meeting to draw up guidelines for CAR-T use. Read more 

February 1, 2018
Simmons Cancer Center researchers part of historic CAR-T breakthrough

A historic study involving researchers from UT Southwestern’s Harold C. Simmons Comprehensive Cancer Center demonstrates the effectiveness of CAR-T therapy, which uses genetically modified immune cells to treat acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) in children and young adults. The research appears in the New England Journal of Medicine. Dr. Ted Laetsch served as the lead investigator for the only clinical trial site in the Southwest for the CAR-T trial. Read more 

January 24, 2018
Amid ADHD spike, doctors urge closer look at sleep issues

Amid a steady rise in the number of children diagnosed with ADHD, debate is brewing whether the condition may be a sleep disorder....“If adults don’t get enough sleep, they’ll appear sleepy,” says Dr. Syed Naqvi, a pediatric sleep expert at UT Southwestern’s Peter O’Donnell Jr. Brain Institute. “Children don’t do that. They show ADHD-like behavior instead – hyperactive or inattentive.” Read more