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Tuesday, October 8 2019
Press release

CAR-T cell therapy now available to Quebec children with acute lymphoblastic leukemia that is resistant to conventional therapies

MONTREAL, October 8, 2019 – CHU Sainte-Justine (CHUSJ) welcomes the Quebec government's decision to now reimburse CAR-T cell therapy for both pediatric and adult patients.

Leukemia is the most frequently diagnosed cancer in children, and acute lymphoblastic leukemia is the most common form of leukemia.

"Although the cure rate has jumped significantly in recent decades, the challenge of treating pediatric cancers that a refractory to conventional therapies remains," said Caroline Barbir, President and CEO of CHUSJ, adding, "CAR-T is a promising avenue of treatment that is already well established in our institution, and one that opens a door to hope for many families. CHUSJ, its caregivers and researchers, are totally committed to cornering this disease in all its manifestations."

The Centre hospitalier universitaire Sainte-Justine, whose expertise in advanced pediatric care is well established in North America and beyond, is one of only two institutions offering this type of therapy in Quebec, and the only one for children.

CAR-T, in a nutshell

"CAR-T-cell" (Chimeric Antigen Receptor) cell therapy is an innovative type of treatment for hematological cancers that holds great promise for the treatment of cancers that are resistant to older or conventional therapies. The principle is simple: it consists in taking white blood cells (T-cells) from the patient, genetically modifying them and multiplying them. These elements are then reintroduced into the patient's body intravenously. The modified cells can then recognize and kill the cancer cells.

The therapy is approved by Health Canada. In Quebec, it is currently used to specifically treat recurrent or refractory acute lymphoblastic leukemia in children and young adults.

Approximately six patients will benefit from this therapy in 2019 at CHU Sainte-Justine.

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About CHU Sainte-Justine

The Centre hospitalier universitaire (CHU) Sainte-Justine is the largest mother-child centre in Canada and one of the four largest pediatric centres in North America.  More than 5,000 employees and doctors make up its workforce. Associated with Université de Montréal, CHU Sainte-Justine is by far the largest pediatric training centre in Quebec and a leader in Canada. Its research centre has 178 researchers and more than 400 students. It is a recognized leader, particularly in the areas of brain diseases, musculoskeletal diseases and movement sciences, fetal-maternal and neonatal pathologies, metabolic health, viral, immune and cancer diseases, and health advancement and development. In 2007, CHU Sainte-Justine celebrated its centenary and received the status of "Health Promoting Hospital" from the World Health Organization (WHO). CHU Sainte-Justine is also a member of Université de Montréal's extended network of excellence in health (RUIS).

CHU Sainte-Justine

Florence Meney  
Senior Advisor – Media Relations

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Updated on 10/9/2019
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