Therapeutic Advances in Childhood Leukemia (TACL)

Children’s of Minnesota is a founding member of the cooperative research group, Therapeutic Advances in Childhood Leukemia (TACL), which focuses on developing new treatments for children with a diagnosis of leukemia that recurs after the initial treatment is complete.

Most children with a diagnosis of leukemia have acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL), acute myelogenous leukemia (AML), or chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML), and most are cured. However, treatment options are more limited for the children whose disease recurs.

TACL seeks to rapidly develop and carry out clinical trials of promising new drugs for these patients. Children’s is one of few hospitals in the Midwest where these clinical trials are available.

The TACL consortium began clinical trials in 2006 to standardize treatments internationally that serve large numbers of children with leukemia. Researchers at TACL member hospitals, working with the pharmaceutical industry, develop new drugs and combinations of drugs to combat recurrent leukemia. TACL’s studies test new anti-cancer agents alone or in combination with medications typically used for relapsed leukemia.

Study for relapsed ALL using Bortezomib (Velcade)

TACL recently completed a clinical trial combining bortezomib (Velcade) in combination with standard chemotherapy for patients with multiply recurrent acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) who respond poorly to therapy. Children’s hematologist/oncologist Dr. Bruce Bostrom wanted to investigate whether or not agents like bortezomib, which are active in multiple myeloma (adult bone marrow cancer), may be active in childhood ALL. Dr. Bostrom tried bortezomib in combination with dexamethasone (Decadron) in a patient with an encouraging response. This led to the TACL trial, chaired by Children’s hematologist/oncologist Yoav Messinger, MD, which proved to be the most successful trial ever for patients with multiply relapsed ALL. Plans are underway to study bortezomib with standard chemotherapy in patients with a first relapse of ALL.