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Studies highlight role of stem cell transplant procedures for blood cancer treatment
Date:12/6/2010

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Prophylactic Rituximab After Allogeneic Stem Cell Transplantation Prevents Steroid-Requiring Chronic Graft-Versus-Host Disease [Abstract 214]

Approximately 50 to 60 percent of adults who receive an allogeneic stem cell transplant experience a complication called chronic graft-versus-host disease (GVHD) that occurs because of the genetic differences between the patient and the donor stem cells. In essence, the donor cells recognize the recipient's own cells as foreign and react by trying to attack and destroy the cells in the patient's body, causing debilitating and sometimes life-threatening symptoms such as skin rashes, blisters, joint pain, stiffness, dry mouth, and dry eyes. Chronic GVHD is the leading cause of mortality among people who survive two or more years following a stem cell transplant, and currently there are no effective treatment options to aid in preventing this complication.

Recent research has indicated that dysregulation of B cells, a type of white blood cell that produces antibodies to fight infection, may play a role in the development of chronic GVHD. Studies have shown that rituximab, a monoclonal antibody that works by depleting B cells, may play a role in the treatment of the condition. The purpose of this exploratory phase II study was to determine if the use of rituximab following an allogeneic stem cell transplant could help prevent chronic GVHD.

Researchers from the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston enrolled a total of 64 patients who were in remission following an allogeneic stem cell transplant to receive rituximab once every three months for one year (three, six, nine, and 12 months post-transplant). The primary endpoint of the study was to determine the incidence of steroid-requiring chronic GVHD at one year following an allogeneic stem cell transplant.
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Contact: Lindsey Love
llove@hematology.org
540-538-9326
American Society of Hematology
Source:Eurekalert

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