Cytotoxic T cells

Patients who undergo cancer treatment or bone marrow transplant have weakened immune systems for several months after the procedure. Until they fully recover, their bodies don’t produce T cells to fight viruses. That leaves these patients especially susceptible to common viral infections—and those infections can quickly become serious.

At the MACC Fund Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders at Children’s Wisconsin, we specialize in T-cell infusion therapy, a specific type of cellular therapy that can treat these dangerous infections. As one of about eight centers for viral CTLs (cytotoxic T lymphocytes) nationwide, Children’s Wisconsin is one of the only pediatric medical center in the region that can rapidly manufacture these lifesaving cells on campus.

Our program is part of a national consortium for viral CTLs co-led by Julie-An Talano, MD, director of the bone marrow transplant team at Children’s Wisconsin. We have protocols to treat transplant and immune-compromised patients as young as one year old for viral infections that are resistant to treatment. Specifically, these infections are Epstein-Barr virus, cytomegalovirus and adenovirus. 

When an immune-compromised child contracts one of these viruses, our first step is to collect lymphocyte cells—a type of white blood cell—from a parent or bone marrow donor. On our campus, in the laboratory of Bryon Johnson, PhD, we use a specific protein from the virus to train the T cells to activate, multiply and grow to fight the virus. Within 24 hours, we can manufacture these cells and reinfuse them into the patient, boosting their immune system to overcome the virus.

For appointments or for more information about cellular therapy, call (414) 266-2420.