Local Couple Committed to Raising $1 Million for Immunotherapy Research

by Patrick Herron

On October 3, 2021, Jenny and Kevin Kehoe of Kensington, MD lost their almost three-year-old son Conor to an aggressive form of leukemia called T-cell ALL. The couple has since committed to raising $1,000,000 in five years for immunotherapy research at Children’s National, where Conor spent the last 10 months of his life.  Since starting the fundraiser this past July, they have raised over $48,000. Additional details below  per the fundraising page:
“After a very intense 10 month battle, our son Conor Dennis Kehoe passed away just before his third birthday from an aggressive form of T-cell ALL Leukemia. Less than six kids a year walk through the doors of Children’s National Hospital with this type of cancer. Unfortunately for most of them, survival is a fight against the odds.

When Conor was first diagnosed in December of 2020, he was put on the same chemotherapy and treatment regimen as B-cell Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia patients. When most B-cell patients finish that first month (induction) in the hospital they are in remission and cancer free. Conor’s bone marrow biopsy still showed 29% cancer. He continued on the same regimen but it wasn’t long before his cancer became stronger than the chemotherapy. Eventually, his only option for survival was a bone marrow transplant but only if his cancer could get to 0.01%. In July of 2021, after a total body relapse, his doctors recommended trying induction therapy again but adding immunotherapy treatment. After a grueling month long stay in the hospital, Conor went from 100% cancer to 0.06%. Unfortunately, at that point he had no chemotherapy left to try and he passed away on October 3, 2021.
Compared to B-cell malignancies, T-cell malignancies have a much worse prognosis. Patients who relapse have even fewer options when treatments fail. Because outcomes for refractory/relapsed T-cell patients are so poor, drug development is a critical area of research.
Our mission is to fund the research team at Children’s National Hospital so they can develop novel immune therapies to treat children with aggressive forms of leukemia and lymphoma. T-cell therapy is one type of immune therapy in which a patient’s cancer-killing T-cells are modified and trained in the laboratory to better attack cancer cells and are then injected back into the patient’s body. Another type of immune therapy is antibody therapies. When given to patients they can target proteins on the surface of the tumor cells. Our goal is to develop novel immune-based treatments that can be given in combination (e.g., T-cell therapies combined with antibody therapies) to treat patients with T-cell cancers.
The success of T-cell therapies for patients with B-cell malignancies suggests that T-cell therapy may also have a positive impact on patients with T-cell malignancies. With your help we hope to raise $125,000 to start the process of finding a cure for T-cell malignancies so kids just like Conor have a better chance at living long, happy and beautiful lives.
The 5 year plan is to raise a total of $1,000,000:
Year 1: Identify appropriate antigen targets and demonstrate effectiveness ($125,000)
Year 2: Evaluate the effectiveness of therapy alone and in combination with antibodies in mouse model ($175,000)
Year 3-5: Translate preclinical work to a clinical trial for patients with T-cell malignancies who are refractory or relapsed after initial treatment ($700,000)
Click here to donate”

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