Advanced Stem Cell Transplants for Blood Cancer Patients

For patients suffering from blood cancers, a stem cell transplant can be a life saving procedure. With allogeneic stem cell transplants, the stem cells are taken from a matched donor (typically a family member) and infused into an immune suppressed patient. Conventional transplants use high doses of total-body irradiation and potent chemotherapy to eliminate leukemia cells (myeloablative transplantation). However, this procedure is generally not performed on people over 60 yrs or on people whom are medically unfit.

Non-myeloablative transplantation, in contrast, relies on the ability of donor immune cells to target and destroy the cancer and does not require high-dose chemotherapy and radiation. Instead, low-dose radiation and chemotherapy are used to suppress the immune system, helping the body accept the donor stem cells. Furthermore, the infused cells then go to work to attacking the cancer cells in a process called ‘the graft versus leukemia effect’ and can be performed on patients with acute and chronic leukemia, lymphoma, multiple myeloma, myelodysplastic syndromes and myeloproliferative diseases such as chronic and acute myelogenous leukemia.

I like this approach because not only does it provide life-enhancing options for elderly and medically unfit patients, it also does not require the use of matched sibling donors as the transplants with matched unrelated donor grafts in this study, had comparable outcomes.
Age Alone No Longer Should Be A Barrier To Stem Cell Transplantation For Older Patients With Blood Cancers.


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