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ASH: Advances in Bone Marrow, Stem Cell Transplant

Developments may improve survival in childhood leukemia, allow transplants in older patients

MONDAY, Dec. 10 (HealthDay News) -- Advances in bone marrow and stem cell transplantation may improve survival in younger and older patients, according to several research studies presented this week at the 49th Annual Meeting of the American Society of Hematology in Atlanta.

In one study, Kirk R. Schultz, M.D., of the Child and Family Research Institute and the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada, and colleagues studied 93 children with Philadelphia chromosome-positive acute lymphoblastic leukemia who received imatinib at intervals ranging from 42 to 280 days. Those who had an available donor sibling received a bone marrow transplant after two cycles of imatinib therapy. The researchers found that early event-free survival at one year was 95.3 percent in the cohort receiving imatinib for 280 days, compared to 70.6 percent in the cohorts receiving imatinib for 42 to 63 days.

In a second study, Navneet S. Majhail, M.D., of the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis, and colleagues studied 90 patients over 55 years of age, including 47 who received stem-cell transplants from matched donors and 43 who received transplants from unrelated umbilical cord blood. They found that umbilical cord blood is a viable source of stem cells for older patients who lack a matched donor.

"Stem cell transplantation is certainly not new, but advanced techniques and new ways of applying older technologies have the potential to change clinical practice and dramatically improve survival rates and quality of life for our patients whether young, old, or in the prime of their lives," Armand Keating, M.D., of Princess Margaret Hospital in Toronto, Canada, said in a statement.

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Abstract #331
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