Testicular Cryopreservation bringing hope to CHOC cancer patients

Young male patients undergoing treatment for some cancers or blood disorders at CHOC Children’s have another hope for fertility preservation.

The Hyundai Cancer Institute at CHOC Children’s is the only program on the West Coast offering testicular cryopreservation as an option for young male patients unable to bank sperm but who would like to take steps to preserve future fertility.

Under the program, testicular tissue is biopsied and stored in liquid nitrogen at temperatures close to absolute zero for future use. Recent research indicates these biopsies contain stem cells, leading to the possibility of generating sperm in the future, says Dr. Carol Lin, an oncologist at the Cancer Institute, and Lisa Klimpel, an oncology nurse practitioner.

CHOC was among a group of U.S. and Israeli institutions to participate in an eight-year study wherein a network of centers used standardized protocol and centralized processing and freezing to collect and store biopsies.

In total, 189 patients provided samples. A quarter of each sample was used for research and the rest stored for future use. These patients ranged from ages 5 months to 34, with an average age of about 8.

Recently published in the journal Human Reproduction, the study, of which Klimpel is a co-author, found that centralized processing and freezing of testicular tissue from multiple sites is feasible and could accelerate recruitment.

A generation ago, cancer survivors had few options to have biological children. Today, many solutions exist, however many oncologists, despite these advancements, still don’t discuss fertility preservation with their patients, particularly young patients. 

At CHOC, however, discussions about fertility preservation with cancer patients early into diagnosis and treatment are a matter of course, as the program works to ensure a meaningful survivorship, says Dr. Lin and Klimpel.

Learn more about referring to the Hyundai Cancer Institute.

Premier CHOC leukemia and immunotherapy conference draws international experts

A premier CHOC Children’s symposium centered around the complex issues facing pediatric leukemia patients drew more than 150 international leaders in the field of children’s leukemia treatment and research. This two-day conference had 33 speakers from various renowned institutions.

Building on the scientific foundation and exchange of information established in the gathering’s five-year history, attendees of the 2018 Society of Young Adult Oncology (SAYAO)/CHOC Children’s Leukemia Symposium shared the latest scientific and clinical advances in acute leukemia, specifically immunotherapy.

CHOC Children’s physician Dr. Van T. Huynh, chaired the symposium and presented her research on asparaginase therapy and silent inactivation.

Titled “From Pediatric to Adult Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia – The Age of Cellular Therapy,” the Nov. 5 and 6 symposia focused largely on CAR-T cell therapy and new agents for the treatment of acute leukemia. Specific topics included:

  • an update on CAR-T cell products and trials;
  • the future of CD 19, CD22 and NK CAR cell trials;
  • the economics of CAR-T cell therapy;
  • update on leukemia therapy for pediatrics and adolescent and young adults; and
  • supportive care and oncofertility for the leukemia patient.

The symposium drew more than 150 international pediatric leukemia leaders and 33 speakers from various renowned institutions.

The symposium was chaired by CHOC physician Dr. Van T. Huynh, who also presented her research on asparaginase therapy and silent inactivation. CHOC physician Dr. Carol Lin discussed toxicity and management of asparaginase therapy.

Learn more about referring a patient to the Hyundai Cancer Institute at CHOC Children’s.

Conference Tackles Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia

SAYAO-LogoIn a contrast to its inaugural year, the 2014 Society of Young Adult Oncology (SAYAO) Conference focused entirely on a specific type of cancer: acute lymphoblastic leukemia.

Instead of again focusing on general psychosocial aspects of cancer treatments in the adolescent and young adult (AYA) population, this year’s approach allowed attendees to explore survivorship disparities between adult patients and the AYA population, Dr. Leonard Sender, SAYAO founder and medical director of the Hyundai Cancer Institute at CHOC Children’s, told “The Huffington Post.”

Held Oct. 6 through 8 at UC Irvine, “Breaking Barriers in Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia” drew about 250 attendees, including 60 speakers and delegates. For more coverage of the conference, as well as a video, read “The Huffington Post” article.

The 2013 conference covered general psychosocial aspects of cancer treatment in adolescents and young adults. Read an in-depth summary of the 2013 conference, including links to its coverage on “The Huffington Post.”

Learn more about SAYAO.

World’s First “Infusionarium” Comes to CHOC Children’s

Any parent who’s ever tried to get the attention of a child engrossed in a video game or movie can certainly appreciate the concept. Our new, multi-screen “Infusionarium” is an innovative video experience offering a welcome distraction for young patients undergoing treatments that often last for hours.

The CHOC Children’s Infusionarium is the first program of its kind to combine immersive video technology with life-saving infusion therapy, such as chemotherapy or IV antibiotics. Located inside The Dhont Family Foundation Outpatient Infusion Center (OPI) at CHOC Children’s, the jumbo screens and fabric-draped interior look more like a deluxe home theater than a hospital treatment room. CHOC Infsuionarium

Each patient chair is equipped with a laptop, headphones and wireless keyboard. Up to four patients, age 2 or older, may play at a time, together across four screens or individually. Patients may choose from an extensive menu of video options:

  • Watch popular movies
  • Play favorite Xbox video games
  • Skype with friends
  • Take “live” virtual tours, including the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory and Monterey Bay Aquarium
  • Surf the Internet, watch YouTube videos
  • Check email
  • Listen to music or podcasts using high-end, noise-canceling headphones

Parents may also use the Infusionarium to watch educational videos.

Therapy for Chemotherapy

The soothing space and mental distraction may help reduce the physical side effects of chemotherapy.

“One patient used to dread coming in for treatments due to intense bouts of nausea that required multiple medications,” said Leonard Sender, M.D. medical director of the Hyundai Cancer Institute at CHOC Children’s. “Today, when he undergoes treatment within the Infusionarium, he doesn’t even use anti-nausea medications.” Plans are underway to formally evaluate all possible patient benefits.

The Infusionarium was developed for CHOC by My Bridge 4 Life, a company that uses emerging technologies and digital media to create “immersive healing environments.” Founders Roger Holzberg and Allison Mills collaborated with Dr. Sender to launch a “pop-up” pilot Infusionarium at CHOC last summer. The results were so encouraging that CHOC moved forward with the new pod inside the OPI. Funding was made possible by proceeds from the Hyundai Hope on Wheels 5K Run/Walk.

Read more in The New York Times.

Learn more about the Hyundai Cancer Institute at CHOC Children’s.


CHOC’s AYA Cancer Efforts Earn National Attention

The adolescent and young adult cancer movement has helped define patients by age rather than disease and raise awareness of the population’s unique needs, Dr. Leonard Sender, medical director of the Hyundai Cancer Institute at CHOC Children’s, tells “The Huffington Post.”

Dr. Sender’s and CHOC’s leadership role in the adolescent and young adult cancer movement were prominently featured recently on the popular online news site that covers a range of topics such as health care, technology, business, politics and entertainment.

The three-part series was centered on the recent Society of Adolescent and Young Adult Oncology (SAYAO) conference held in partnership with CHOC’s Cancer Institute.

The first piece featured an interview with Dr. Sender who is also the director of the Cancer Institute’s adolescent and young adult program and developed SAYAO. Dr. Sender discussed the movement’s achievements, its ongoing priorities and goals, as well as its future.

“I believe the movement as a whole is going to help define four big age groups of people getting cancers, and that we are going to start addressing cancer in terms of what it means for those age groups,” he said. “So, what does it mean for a geriatric patient who is different from an adult who is different from an AYA who is different from a pediatric patient?”

CHOCThe series’ second installment, “Advances in the Young Adult Cancer Movement: Why SAYAO Is a Big Deal,” discussed the origins of SAYAO and its efforts to create an academic space for medical professionals to discuss and educate one another on the specific topics relevant to this patient population.

The article also provided an overview of the two-day conference held in October.

The series’ third piece, “New Innovation in the AYA Cancer Movement: The Future is Here,” detailed new technology discussed at the conference that could factor in future treatment of adolescents and young adults with cancer.

For example, My Bridge 4 Life, an organization whose products use technology to help people improve healthcare management, developed the Infusionarium at CHOC’s Cancer Institute. The Infusionarium, which ran as a pilot in 2013, incorporated sensory elements and media to help combat the isolation, boredom and stress often felt by patients during cancer treatment.

Also, My Bridge 4 Life and SeventyK announced a new video survival guide and eBook for adolescents and young adults with cancer.