Iwan was diagnosed with a type of Leukaemia known as Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia in September 2009 when he was just 10 years old. Since then he has been through seemingly endless rounds of chemotherapy treatment and two bone marrow transplants to try and beat this terrible disease.
Iwan is now 16, and sadly none of these treatments have provided a cure. His parent's hope now is that they can raise £200,000 to take Iwan to the United States for a new cancer treatment, not yet available on the NHS in the UK, called CAR T-Cell Therapy at Seattle Children's Hospital.
CAR T-Cell Immunotherapy is a treatment that involves drawing blood from the patient so that T-Cells can be separated out (T-Cells are white blood cells that are made in the bone marrow but mature in the Thymus Gland).
The T-Cells are reprogrammed by adding recombinant DNA (genetically modifying them). The change tells the T-Cells to make a place on their surface (a receptor) that acts like Velcro. This allows the T-Cell to find and bind to the target on the cancer cell. The newly reprogrammed T-Cells are then grown to billions of new cells.
The T-Cells are then reinjected into the patient and bond to the cancer cells. When they bind, the T-Cells can attack the cancer cells as if they were fighting an infection. The receptor on the T-Cell is called a Chimeric Antigen Receptor (CAR) hence the modified T-Cells are called CAR T-Cell.
The hope is that the CAR T-Cells will go to work within a week of injection into the blood stream and destroy the cancer cells within the body like an infection.
Age: 10 years old when diagnosed
Cancer: Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia
Treatment: CAR T-Cell therapy
Location: USA - Seattle Children's Hospital