The Glòria Soler Foundation contributes to the fight against leukaemia by supporting CART (Chimeric Antigen Receptor T-cell) therapy, and through its Project ARI at the Hospital Clínic de Barcelona. The collaboration of the Glòria Soler Foundation was essential in initiating clinical tests in the first patients. With the help of many other contributions, this ensured that the treatment would be available in the Spanish public health system. In this way, furthermore, the Hospital Clínic was the first public hospital in Europe to offer the technology, paving the way for its use in other health centres.
CART cells have the same immune system as patients (T lymphocytes) and are programmed genetically to selectively attack leukemic cells without adversely affecting healthy cells. The CART19 (CART cells against the CD19 molecule, which are characteristic of B-cell lymphocytes), here called ARI, have made it possible for refractory patients, those who do not respond to chemotherapy, to respond positively to the CART19. This procedure makes it possible to eliminate acute lymphoblastic leukaemia, which is resistant to conventional treatment.
Project ARI is inspired by the tenacity and perseverance of Ariana Benedé Jover, a young woman who was diagnosed with leukaemia at the age of 13, and who died in September 2016, at the age of 18.
With the support of family and friends and in conjunction with the Hospital Clínic de Barcelona, Ariana Benedé led a fundraising campaign in exemplary fashion and in solidarity with others to put this pioneering immunotherapy into practice. Ariana is the posthumous patron of the Glòria Soler Foundation.
Immunotherapy is currently revolutionising traditional oncological treatments, and its potential goes quite beyond the treatment of these tumours. There are many challenges yet to be faced, especially related to extending this type of therapy to other kinds of cancer, such as breast cancer and multiple myeloma.