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Bone marrow transplant survival more than doubles for young high-risk leukemia patients
Date:7/14/2011

diate and long-term side effects.

"We can now identify donors for virtually all pediatric patients who need transplant to cure their leukemia. Importantly, our transplanted patients not only have high cure rates but also excellent quality of life, resulting largely from advances in chemotherapy, donor selection and supportive care," said Ching-Hon Pui, M.D., St. Jude Department of Oncology chair and the paper's senior author.

Bone marrow transplantation involves destroying the patients' own diseased blood-producing bone marrow and replacing it with hematopoietic cells from healthy donors. This study included three types of donors: genetically matched related donors; genetically matched unrelated donors; and partially genetically matched donors. Parents generally make up the third group, who are known as haploidentical donors.

The largest survival gains involved patients whose blood and immune systems were rebuilt with cells from haploidentical donors. Survival for these patients increased from 12 percent in earlier ALL and AML treatment eras to 88 percent in the most recent treatment era.

Historically, transplant patients fared best and suffered fewer complications when the donors were relatives who carried the same six proteins on their white blood cells. Known as HLA proteins, they serve as markers to help the immune system distinguish between an individual's healthy tissue and diseased cells that should be eliminated.

St. Jude investigators pioneered the use of haploidentical transplants, demonstrating that careful matching of patients and donors and proper processing of the hematopoietic donor cells enhances the anti-cancer effect of transplantation without significantly increasing side effects. The process involves careful testing and HLA screening of potential donors to identify the one whose immune system is likely to mount the most aggressive attack against remaining leukemia cells using specialized immune cells k
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Contact: Summer Freeman
summer.freeman@stjude.org
901-595-3061
St. Jude Children's Research Hospital
Source:Eurekalert

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