About T-cell therapy for a virus
Taking certain medicines makes your child more likely to get sick from a virus. There are many different types of viruses, and some can cause severe illness. Medicines called “immunosuppressives” (say IM-you-no-soo-press-ivz) can make your child much more likely to get certain viruses. There are only a few treatments if your child does get a virus, and T-cell therapy is one of these.
What are T cells?
T cells are a type of white blood cell. White blood cells are some of the cells that protect your body from infections, including viruses. T cells have connectors called “receptors” on them. These help them find specific areas called “markers” on other cells. If they find a marker that looks different than it should, the T cell thinks that cell is abnormal.
When T cells find an abnormal cell, they attach to it and destroy it. For example, they can attach to and destroy specific virus cells.
Where the cells for treatment come from
The T cells to treat specific viruses come from healthy donors. These are volunteers who are not related to your child. The donors give T cells, which are then processed in a lab so they make more of themselves. Next, the lab workers remove any T cells that might be harmful. Finally, they find and test T cells that react to a specific virus. They freeze these cells and store them in a place called a “bank.”
Can my child have T-cell therapy for a specific virus?
Maybe. We will take a sample of your child’s blood and test it to learn if the right T cells are available. If they are, your child might have T-cell therapy for the virus. If not, your child’s doctor will consider other treatments.
How we give your child the T cells
The process of giving T cells is called “infusion.” This term means putting medicine or something else into the bloodstream. Your child might have other infusions during their treatment at St. Jude, such as medicine.
We give T cells in the clinic or in the hospital if your child is staying there. The donor T cells are thawed out, so they are no longer frozen. Then, your child gets them through their IV or central line.
Giving T cells takes just a few minutes. The St. Jude team will watch your child closely afterward for any problems. They will need to be watched for several weeks and months after the treatment is complete. Your child might need more than one T-cell infusion. The donor could be the same or different. How many infusions your child needs will depend on how well the treatment works and if donor cells are available.
Ask your child’s doctor or nurse for more information about T cell treatment for specific viruses and possible side effects.
This document is not intended to take the place of the care and attention of your personal physician or other professional medical services. Our aim is to promote active participation in your care and treatment by providing information and education. Questions about individual health concerns or specific treatment options should be discussed with your physician.
St. Jude complies with health care-related federal civil rights laws and does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, age, disability, or sex.
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