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Half-matched transplants widen pool of donors for leukemia and lymphoma
Date:7/7/2011

Identifying a suitable donor for leukemia and lymphoma patients who need bone marrow transplants may be far easier now that results of two clinical trials show transplant results with half-matched bone marrow or umbilical cord blood are comparable to fully matched tissue, thanks in large part to the availability of effective antirejection drugs and special post-transplant chemotherapy. The finding means that nearly all patients in need of a transplant can find donors, according to Johns Hopkins scientists who participated in the trials.

Plans are under way for a four-year randomized trial for so-called haploidentical marrow or cord blood transplants in 380 patients to begin late this year or early next year. Many large medical centers, including Johns Hopkins, are expected to participate.

The results of the two studies are good news, Hopkins researchers say, because they address the problem faced by patients when no family members are a complete match for the patient's tissue type. Although patients and physicians may then seek donors through national registries, as many as half or more of patients looking for matches in these registries don't find one, and the search can take weeks to months.

During this time, a patient's disease can progress, notes bone marrow transplant expert Ephraim Fuchs, M.D., who adds that it is especially difficult for minorities to find matches because of their underrepresentation in national registries.

"People are dying waiting for matched donors from a registry," says Fuchs, associate professor of oncology at the Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center.

In the clinical trials, investigators from the Blood and Marrow Transplant Clinical Trials Network at 27 medical centers tested two types of transplants, those from half-matched (or haploidentical) bone marrow or cord blood, and published their results in the July 14 issue of Blood. Some 50 adult leukemia or lymphoma patients with a
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Contact: Vanessa Wasta
wasta@jhmi.edu
410-955-1287
Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions
Source:Eurekalert

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