Patients with treatment-resistant CLL respond positively to stem cell transplants

Jul 02, 2010

Allogeneic (donor-derived) stem cell transplant (alloSCT) may be a promising option for patients with treatment-resistant chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL), regardless of the patient's underlying genetic abnormalities, according to the results of a study published online today in Blood, the journal of the American Society of Hematology. About 15,000 new CLL cases were diagnosed in the United States in 2009 and about 4,000 deaths were documented (according to the American Cancer Society). While survival rates for leukemia have generally improved in the last decade, patients with rare, more aggressive forms of CLL do not respond well to standard chemotherapy-based and targeted treatments and often die within a few years of diagnosis.

Patients with CLL who are treatment-resistant (do not respond to chemotherapy and targeted antibody combination regimens) have been shown to have genetic abnormalities that predict their lack of response. In this study, researchers investigated whether alloSCT could be an effective treatment for this patient population, independent of underlying genetic abnormalities.

"This study, which is one of the largest of its kind, confirms that allogeneic stem cell transplants are a promising therapeutic option for treatment-resistant CLL patients fighting particularly aggressive disease, regardless of their profile," said Peter Dreger, MD, of the Department of Medicine, University of Heidelberg, Germany, and lead author of the study. "However, because stem cell transplants come with serious risks, they should be reserved for only this group of patients until further studies can be done."

In alloSCT, blood are collected from a donor and then infused into the patient where they travel to the bone marrow and begin to produce new , replacing those that have been affected as a result of the disease. This type of treatment can pose serious complications, some of which are potentially fatal. In this prospective phase II study, a total of 90 patients with treatment-resistant CLL received alloSCT, and stem cell donors were either healthy siblings or unrelated, but matched, volunteers.

Prior to the transplant, patients in this study received conditioning, a standard therapy administered immediately before a to help prepare the body to receive and accept the transplanted cells. The research team used a reduced-intensity conditioning approach with two common chemotherapies (fludarabine and cyclophosphamide) to reduce complications and allow the donor stem cells to fight the disease themselves.

After treatment with alloSCT, more than 40 percent of participants with this otherwise fatal disease enjoyed long-term freedom from relapse. These findings suggest that alloSCT is a feasible and potentially curative treatment for patients with high-risk CLL and should be considered for this patient population.

Explore further: US scientists make embryonic stem cells from adult skin

Provided by American Society of Hematology

not rated yet
add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Knocking Out Survival Protein Could Aid Leukemia Treatment

Apr 23, 2007

An effective way to fight leukemia might be to knock out a specific protein that protects cancer cells from dying, a new study shows. The findings suggest that a drug that can block this “survival protein” might on its ...

Recommended for you

Leeches help save woman's ear after pit bull mauling

Apr 18, 2014

(HealthDay)—A pit bull attack in July 2013 left a 19-year-old woman with her left ear ripped from her head, leaving an open wound. After preserving the ear, the surgical team started with a reconnection ...

New pain relief targets discovered

Apr 17, 2014

Scientists have identified new pain relief targets that could be used to provide relief from chemotherapy-induced pain. BBSRC-funded researchers at King's College London made the discovery when researching ...

User comments : 0

More news stories

Filipino tests negative for Middle East virus

A Filipino nurse who tested positive for the Middle East virus has been found free of infection in a subsequent examination after he returned home, Philippine health officials said Saturday.

Study says we're over the hill at 24

(Medical Xpress)—It's a hard pill to swallow, but if you're over 24 years of age you've already reached your peak in terms of your cognitive motor performance, according to a new Simon Fraser University study.

NASA's space station Robonaut finally getting legs

Robonaut, the first out-of-this-world humanoid, is finally getting its space legs. For three years, Robonaut has had to manage from the waist up. This new pair of legs means the experimental robot—now stuck ...

Ex-Apple chief plans mobile phone for India

Former Apple chief executive John Sculley, whose marketing skills helped bring the personal computer to desktops worldwide, says he plans to launch a mobile phone in India to exploit its still largely untapped ...

Egypt archaeologists find ancient writer's tomb

Egypt's minister of antiquities says a team of Spanish archaeologists has discovered two tombs in the southern part of the country, one of them belonging to a writer and containing a trove of artifacts including reed pens ...

Airbnb rental site raises $450 mn

Online lodging listings website Airbnb inked a $450 million funding deal with investors led by TPG, a source close to the matter said Friday.