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Antibodies from rabbits reduce risks associated with unrelated donor stem cell transplantation
Date:7/9/2012

Richmond, Va. (July 9, 2012) Researchers at Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) Massey Cancer Center's Bone Marrow Transplant Program have demonstrated that the use of antibodies derived from rabbits can improve the survival and relapse outcomes of leukemia and myelodysplasia patients receiving a stem cell transplant from an unrelated donor.

Recently published in the journal Bone Marrow Transplantation, a study led by Amir Toor, M.D., hematologist-oncologist in the Bone Marrow Transplant Program and member of the Developmental Therapeutics program at VCU Massey Cancer Center, retrospectively compared the outcomes of 50 patients who received rabbit anti-thymocyte globulin (ATG) before receiving a transplant of stem cells from an unrelated donor to the outcomes of 48 patients who received a transplant of stem cells from a related donor. While unrelated stem cell transplants typically have poorer outcomes than related stem cell transplants, the results from this study showed similar outcomes for each group in terms of mortality, relapse and the development of graft-versus-host disease (GVHD), a common complication that can occur after a stem cell or bone marrow transplant in which the newly transplanted material attacks the transplant recipient's body.

"Unfortunately, we can't always find a related (genetically similar) donor for patients in need of stem cell transplantation," says Toor, who is also associate professor of internal medicine in the Department of Hematology, Oncology and Palliative Care at VCU School of Medicine. "Obtaining better outcomes with unrelated donor stem cell transplants could represent a significant advancement in extending the lives of more patients with blood cancers."

Unrelated donor stem cell transplants are generally considered a high-risk treatment due to historically higher rates of disease relapse and GVHD in comparison to stem cells transplanted from donors related to the patients. The results of the study indicat
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Contact: John Wallace
wallacej@vcu.edu
804-628-1550
Virginia Commonwealth University
Source:Eurekalert

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