Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia in Children: Advanced Treatments Available in Israel.
Discover the benefits of CAR T-cell therapy and bone marrow transplantation in Israel for your child
Acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) is an aggressive (fast-growing) type of leukemia in which too many immature white blood cells are produced in the bone marrow instead of mature ones, which can cause a decrease in red blood cells and platelets, and also reduce the immune system’s ability to fight infections. While ALL can develop at any age, it is more common in children, and is in fact the most prevalent type of cancer in children. As an extremely fast-growing malignancy of the blood and bone marrow, ALL requires treatment to be administered as early as possible for a positive outcome. When left untreated, the disease can become fatal within months. In most cases, by the time ALL is diagnosed, it has already spread to multiple body organs, including the lymph nodes, liver, spleen, and central nervous system. Standard treatments for ALL include chemotherapy, targeted therapy, and radiation therapy, but advanced treatments, such as bone marrow transplantation and CAR T-cell therapy, are also available at select medical institutions.
CAR T-cell Therapy
Israel and Sheba Medical center in particular, are world leaders in the implementation of CAR T-cell therapy for acute lymphoblastic leukemia in children. CAR T-cell therapy is an innovative procedure that makes use of your own immune system to seek and destroy cancerous cells. After some blood is taken from the patient, the T-cells, a type of immune cell, are separated from the rest of the blood in a special laboratory. The T-cells are then genetically engineered to produce chimeric antigen receptors (CARs). The engineered T-cells are then given some time to multiply in the laboratory and are later injected back into the patient. The CARs allow the T-cells to recognize, target and destroy cancer cells.
Unfortunately, as a novel advanced treatment, CAR T-cell therapy is only available in a handful of medical institutions worldwide, and tends to be very expensive. At Sheba Medical Center, CAR T-cells are engineered in-house in a specialized laboratory, and as a result, the entire process, from lymphocyte collection to patient delivery, only takes about 10 days. In contrast, many other hospitals use commercial CARs, which must be engineered abroad and shipped back, taking months to become available. This delay allows the patient’s disease to progress further, which can also reduce the effectiveness of the body’s response to the CARs. Furthermore, the shipping process compromises cell quality, as some cells die during the necessary freezing and thawing.
Bone Marrow Transplantation
When necessary, bone marrow transplants can be undertaken as a part of acute lymphoblastic leukemia treatment for children in Israel. The procedure involves depleting diseased bone marrow with chemotherapy or radiation and then intravenously infusing healthy donor stem cells into the patient. The new stem cells travel to the bone marrow, where they begin to produce new blood cells. At Sheba Medical Center, the largest hospital in Israel, the Department of Bone Marrow Transplants features 14 private rooms, alongside comprehensive, high-tech laboratories and clinics – enabling all steps of the transplant procedure to be completed efficiently on-site. The department has performed more than 2,000 transplants to date and employs a diverse team of world-renowned specialists, including hematologists, medical oncologists, and radiation oncologists, who all work together to provide optimized treatments for each individual patient.
Reasons Why Many Choose Israel for Treatment of Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia in Children
- Advanced Treatment: Medical institutions in Israel and the US often collaborate in advanced cancer research, developing new and effective treatments against the disease, yet Israel has fewer constraints than the US when it comes to adopting novel treatments. Israeli clinical trials still adhere to the highest standards of safety, but innovative treatments are generally made available to patients sooner than in the US.
- Quality of Care: Israeli physicians are exceptionally well-trained and often spend even more time on their medical education than American doctors. Also, you can be assured of high standards and strict safety regulations if you choose a hospital accredited by a trustworthy authority.
- Cost: In many countries, healthcare costs can be exorbitant. Without insurance, the costs of cancer treatment can be crippling. Prices are much lower in Israel, averaging 30-80% less than in the US, for example. That said, you’re not trading affordability for quality, since Israeli specialists, medical institutions, equipment, and procedures are among the most advanced in the world.
Where to Pursue Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia Treatment for Children in Israel?
Having discovered a few of the many advantages of getting treatment for pediatric acute lymphoblastic leukemia in Israel, where exactly should you pursue it? Sheba Medical Center is an exceptional choice. One of the 10 best hospitals in the world according to Newsweek magazine, Sheba is dedicated to providing patients with world-class medical care.
The advantages of receiving treatment at Sheba Medical Center include:
- Sheba’s extensive experience with CAR T-cell therapy speaks louder than words. Under the expertise of Prof. Arnon Nagler, Director of the Hemato-Oncology Division, and a world-renowned specialist in the field, we have provided over 220 patients with CAR T-cell therapy, including 60 children.
- As a government institution, we have no hidden costs, and our fees are transparent. Although we offer advanced treatments that are available only in select medical institutions around the world, our prices are affordable.
- Sheba’s 360-degree care approach to every patient, which means that Sheba’s professionals will assist you with arranging medical record reviews, travel, visas, accommodations, and language interpretation as needed.
- Sheba has full accreditation from the Joint Commission International (JCI), the premier international healthcare accrediting group.
- Sheba has both advanced treatment and laboratory facilities. At Sheba, patients receive every aspect of their treatment in a single facility.
- Top-notch facility: Sheba is home to the Ella Lemelbaum Institute for Immuno-Oncology, a modern facility devoted entirely to cancer immunotherapy research and treatment.