Meet Dr. Triplett

Dr. Brandon M Triplett, MD

Title: Chief, Transplant Clinical Service Medical Director, Children’s GMP, LLC, Associate Member, Department of Bone Marrow Transplantation and Cellular Therapy 

Hospital: St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital

Specialty: Pediatric Hematology/Oncology 

Research Project funded by Cookies for Kids’ Cancer: Allogeneic CD19-CAR T cells for ALL 

In layman’s terms, what is/was the purpose of the research project: 

Pediatric acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) is a blood cancer that is very difficult to treat in children once it has recurred. T cells are immune system cells that help defend against infections.

Scientists have inserted a molecule called a CAR (Chimeric antigen receptor) into normal T cells to attack cancer cells. CAR T cells have been very effective for many children with ALL. However, collecting healthy T cells from a patient who is being treated for leukemia is very challenging because leukemia therapy also destroys the patient’s T cells. Therefore, we propose to use healthy T cells from the leukemia patient’s parent instead. These cells are readily available, and much healthier.

Although T cells from another person can recognize the recipient as being different and cause injury, we have learned that separating the T cells into different groups and using only the “memory” T cells can be an effective way to avoid this problem.

In this research project we plan to develop and conduct a clinical trial with memory T cells in which an ALL-specific CAR is inserted. Memory T cells are collected from parents and changed to express an ALL-specific CAR molecule. These CAR memory T cells are then infused into patients. We will determine the safety and anti-ALL activity of infused CAR memory T cells, and have also planned studies to carefully track these cells after the infusion. If successful, our approach could be adapted to other pediatric cancers for which immunotherapies are currently being developed.

What message would you like to share with our donors: 

Your hard-earned and generous donation goes not only to new groundbreaking therapy for children with aggressive cancers who are in desperate need of new therapies, but it also allows us to perform cutting-edge biological investigations of these new therapies. Insights from these investigations will help countless children diagnosed with these cancers in the future.

Tell us where you’re from?

Galatia, IL, a town of 800 people when I was there

Why did you want to get into pediatric cancer research:

I thought I wanted to be a Pediatric Cardiologist, but when I was doing my clinical rotations as a medical student, I just fell in love with the oncology patients. I wanted to do everything I could to help them and their families.

Do you have children?

I have three teenage boys, 14, 18, and 19. All three want to become engineers.

Are you a dog or cat person:  

Dog - I have Manny and Maple.

What do you like to do when you’re not in the lab: 

I like to play cards or board games with my family/friends, and when I need some time alone I like to “tinker” on my cars. I do little upgrades on my daily car (a VW GTI) and also work on my 1961 Corvette that my dad bought when he was 19 years old.

What’s your favorite piece of lab equipment and why:

I don’t have a lab; the clinic is my research lab. So my favorite “equipment” is my patients. I do everything in my power to help and heal them with groundbreaking new therapies. Critically at the same time, we are using precious blood samples from the patients to learn so much about the new therapies so we can help many more future patients.

What’s your favorite cookie:

Simple Toll House chocolate chip cookies, extra chips and under-baked.