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The Live Like Bella® Childhood Cancer Foundation Helps Fund Innovative Research – CAR T cells for Relapsed Rhabdomyosarcoma

MIAMI, June 4, 2015 /PRNewswire/ — The Live Like Bella® Childhood Cancer Foundation today announced a gift to Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSK) that will help fund a groundbreaking therapy for children with relapsed or treatment-resistant Rhabdomyosarcoma by using one of the most promising methods of cancer treatment today, chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T cells.

The goal of this research is the pre-clinical development of CAR T cells against Rhabdomyosarcoma cells. CAR T cell therapy, a type of immunotherapy, is a striking new weapon in cancer treatment. Unlike targeted drugs that interfere with an individual’s unique tumor makeup, immunotherapy goes one step further to individualize treatment by altering a patient’s own immune cells to fight disease. Researchers at MSK have demonstrated results in the treatment of blood cancers and with the help of The Live Like Bella® Childhood Cancer Foundation will turn their attention to solid tumors including Rhabdomyosarcoma. The goal of this pre-clinical research is to conduct a clinical trial testing the safety and efficacy of CAR T cells targeting Rhabdomyosarcoma.

The research team includes Drs. Renier J. Brentjens, Manjusha Namuduri, Leonard Wexler, and Kevin J. Curran. Dr. Curran, who leads the pediatric CAR T cells trials at MSK states, “Our goal is to show that the immune system can fight cancer in patients in whom chemotherapy or bone marrow transplant has failed. By developing new types of CAR T cells we can offer new treatment options to children who have failed standard treatment.”

Patients who undergo CAR T cell therapy have their immune cells, called T cells, collected and genetically altered to allow them to recognize and attack a protein found on the surface of their cancer cells. the potential impact of this therapy has MSK researchers and clinicians excited. Unlike standard treatment, where resistance develops to targeted drugs, immunotherapy aims to teach the body how to find and eradicate the cancer cells.

“MSK is recognized as one of the leading cancer research institutions in the world. Our daughter Bella participated in several trials in New York. We saw firsthand how MSK focuses on accelerating pediatric cancer research. It is a privilege to fund this exciting research in her memory for the benefit of future generations of children battling cancer.” Said Shannah Rodriguez-Torres, Vice Chair of Live Like Bella® and Bella’s mother.


Live Like Bella® was founded in June 2013 in memory of Bella Rodriguez-Torres, who passed away at the tender age of 10 from Rhabdomyosarcoma, an aggressive childhood cancer. In her six-year battle she inspired millions to #LiveLikeBella and we are dedicated to finding a cure for pediatric cancer by funding innovative pediatric cancer research. Our Foundation also provides support for families with children currently in treatment and provides memorial assistance for families who have lost a child to cancer. For more information visit

Media Contact:
Jessica DeQuesada
786- 505-3914

SOURCE Live Like Bella Foundation