United States: Of the blood disease that makes it possible for more patients with such threatening diseases to get stem cell transplants, it is said a new study can be helped by an old drug in a new method. 

More about the news 

A drug called cyclophosphamide may allow patients undergo stem cell transplantation even if the stem donor and the patient are not outright family and the compatibility of blood type was only partial, as researchers note. 

Researchers of stem cell transplant from a stranger said that blood cancer patients have a high rate of 79 percent one-year survival after stem cell transplant followed by cyclophosphamide treatment. 

According to Dr. Antonio Jimenez Jimenez, the researcher and a physician-scientist with the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, “The outcomes seem to be very comparable to those of a fully matched donor,” as US News reported. 

Old Drug Revolutionizes Stem Cell Transplants for Blood Diseases. Credit | iStock
Old Drug Revolutionizes Stem Cell Transplants for Blood Diseases. Credit | iStock

More about cyclophosphamide treatment 

Cyclophosphamide given several days after transplantation can mitigate the risks of graft-versus-host disease (GvHD), a life-threatening phenomenon where the transplant all of a sudden attacks the patient. 

GvHD is most common in marrow transplants where donor and recipient are not related, affecting between 60 – 80 percent of cases, according to the National Institutes of Health. 

However, a new study depicted that among the patients, only 51 percent of them had not developed GvHD, and other complications, including relapse of cancer in one year, had not occurred, as US News reported. 

The researchers also noted that matching the donor and the patient for transplantation is a big challenge when it comes to blood cancer patients. 

Disparities in bone marrow donations 

The National Marrow Donor Program currently holds over forty million potential bone marrow donors, however there are inequalities within this program. 

Researchers also pointed out that only half of Hispanic patients and a quarter of Black patients can get a fully matched donor, while the numbers are much higher than 70 percent of white patients. 

They said that over the last decade or so, cyclophosphamide has been administered to the patient to make them receptive to drawing partial matching stem cells from the relative. The odds of a complete mating of full siblings are 25 percent, while the frequency of the partial match is 50 percent. 

This made researchers ask themselves, perhaps for the fully mismatched but partially matched related transplants, cyclophosphamide will also be effective. 

This approach saw 80 patients who had undergone bone-marrow transplants with partially matched but unrelated donors recorded high survival rates in an earlier study

However, for the blood cancer treatment, scientists have been more focused on stem cell transplant, as it is more easy to collect from a donor than bone marrow, explains the researchers. 

For the new study purposes, the scientists tested the procedure on a group of 70 adults patients having advanced stage blood cancers, where each one of them had received a partially matched stem cell donation from an unrelated donor. 

Experts noted that the new approach will help patients find higher-quality donations from younger people with healthier stem cells. 

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