In May 2011, when Kimberly Schuetz was starting to plan her son Austin’s third birthday, he was diagnosed with a high-risk form of acute lymphoblastic leukemia.
Austin was immediately placed on a chemotherapy regimen. However, when a routine blood test revealed that he relapsed in October 2012, their only option was a bone marrow transplant to save his life. After that transplant, his cancer came back for the third time in May 2013.
At five years old, Austin had been dealing with leukemia for the majority of his young life. His parents enrolled him into a clinical trial for a new immunotherapy treatment. It was their only hope. The pioneering therapy was administered to Austin at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. Today, at age 10, he is in remission.
Austin was treated with CAR T-cell immunotherapy, which has proven to be effective in other patients with certain types of leukemia and lymphoma. Dozens of adults and children who were out of treatment options are now in remission, and some remain healthy up to five years after treatment. LLS recognized the early promise of this new approach and has provided $40 million over the past two decades to drive this research forward.