Tag Archives: leukemia

First Successful Use of Expanded Umbilical-Cord Blood Units to Treat Leukemia

ScienceDaily (Jan. 18, 2010) — Scientists at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center have cleared a major technical hurdle to making umbilical-cord-blood transplants a more widely-used method for treating leukemia and other blood cancers.

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Stem Cell Transplants Improve Survival for Some Leukemia Patients

By Carol Pearson, VOANews.com

Researchers say some leukemia patients can dramatically improve their survival rates if they have stem cell transplants. In fact, the researchers say the use of stem cells may result in a new standard treatment.

For two weeks Randall Burnham thought he had the flu. Instead it was a type of deadly leukemia.

“When I was diagnosed, I was actually so sick I didn’t really understand what was going on,” he said. “Afterwards, they said that I was within a couple of days of dying.”

Burnham was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia – a cancer of the blood and bone marrow that spreads so rapidly that unless a patient gets treatment, he usually has only a matter of months to live. Chemotherapy is used to put the patient into remission.

“In other words, the bone marrow and the blood have been restored to a normal looking state,” said Dr. John Koreth of the Dana Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, Massachusetts.

Dr. Koreth says chemotherapy does not kill every cancer cell. In some patients, the cancer recurs.

BURNHAM: “I noticed that a couple of days ago that I don’t feel as achey as I did before.”

KORETH: “Good.”

Dr. Koreth says a simple chromosome test shows whether the patient has a good, poor or intermediate chance of the acute myeloid leukemia returning.

For those with a good prognosis, chemotherapy alone may suffice. For patients with a poor outlook, chemotherapy plus a blood stem cell transplant from a donor is the usual treatment.

But there was no consensus on how to treat patients in the intermediate group who have almost a 50 percent chance of recurence.

“For intermediate risk, even the experts were stumped,” he added.

Dr. Koreth and other researchers analyzed data from two dozen studies. They noticed that healthy stem cells from a compatible donor helped boost the survival rates of patients who had intermediate risk. Randall Burnham found a good match.

“I had a sister with a perfect match to me,” explained Mr. Burnham. “And then a brother and another sister with slight deviations, so they took the sister that had the perfect match. So she was the one who donated the stem cells to me.”

Burnham has been in remission for two years after having the transplant. Dr. Koreth says the study may provide clear direction on how intermediate risk patients should be treated.

There are risks associated with the transplant procedure. Burnham takes extra precautions, such as wearing gloves and a mask, because he is more susceptible to infections and other side effects. But Dr. Koreth says the treatment’s benefits outweigh the risks.

The study has been published in The Journal of the American Medical Association.

Stem Cells And Leukemia Battle For Marrow Microenvironment

From MedicalNewsToday.com

Learning how leukemia takes over privileged “niches” within the bone marrow is helping researchers develop treatment strategies that could protect healthy blood-forming stem cells and improve the outcomes of bone marrow transplantation for leukemia and other types of cancer.

In a paper in the journal Science, available early online Dec. 19, 2008, researchers from the University of Chicago Medical Center show that by blocking one of the chemical signals that leukemic cells release, they could help prevent the cells that mature to become red and white blood cells from being shut down by the cancerous invader.

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