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New stem cell research, transplant strategies show promise to improve outcomes, reduce complications
Date:12/9/2012

ation (HSCT) may safely reduce the incidence and severity of a challenging complication called graft-versus-host disease (GVHD).

HSCT is the primary form of treatment for many patients with blood disorders; it involves the transplantation of healthy blood-forming stem cells from the bone marrow, circulating blood, or umbilical cord blood to replace damaged, disease-causing cells in recipients. Despite the therapeutic benefits of HSCT, half of all patients who receive transplants from a related donor (allogeneic HCT) develop acute GVHD, a life-threatening condition occurring when the newly transplanted cells identify the recipient's body as foreign and attack the recipient's own cells.

Currently, HSCT patients receive prophylactic therapy before and after transplant to prepare their bodies for the procedure and to help manage their subsequent immune response. While this series of drugs is designed to help reduce patients' risk of developing GVHD, it also compromises their immune systems, leaving them vulnerable to serious infections and complications. Recent research has sought to determine ways to improve patients' initial immune response to transplanted cells as well as promote faster immune recovery after transplant.

Recent early-stage studies have demonstrated that a class of anti-cancer drugs known as histone deacetylase inhibitors (HDACi) may safely reduce the risk of GVHD in patients. These drugs have demonstrated an ability to "turn off" an enzyme that leads to inflammation, a major contributor to GVHD that develops as a byproduct of patients' intense immune response to HSCT. Based on those early results, researchers initiated the current study to evaluate whether one drug in this class, vorinostat, might reduce the risk of acute GVHD when added to current regimens.

To test this hypothesis, researchers enrolled 45 patients undergoing matched related donor HSCT from transplant centers at the University of Michigan in An
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Contact: Andrea Slesinski
aslesinski@hematology.org
614-352-5096
American Society of Hematology
Source:Eurekalert

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