The are a variety of cancerous diseases of the blood and bone marrow that can be potentially cured by bone marrow transplantation (BMT). Diseases like leukemia, lymphoma, and multiple myeloma are among the conditions that can be treated with BMT.
Some patients with these diseases can be treated with medical chemotherapy alone. However, patients who relapse following chemotherapy are usually not curable with additional chemotherapy treatments. The only option known to provide a potential cure if this occurs is BMT.
Allogenic transplants are cells collected from relatives of the patient. The transplant requires additional high intensity chemotherapy and radiation in order to destroy cancerous cells. In the process, many normal bone marrow cells are also destroyed. This is the reason for transplanting stem cells. The stem cells help to build new functioning bone marrow, red cells, white cells, and platelets. In addition, the immune cells from the donor are implanted into the recipient s body and help to fight off infection and kill remaining cancerous cells.
Unfortunately, the powerful doses of chemotherapy and radiation therapy associated with allogenic BMT have toxic side effects and often make BMTs too dangerous to attempt in many patients.
In order to reduce the complications of BMT, and make it a safer available option for patients with cancers of the blood and bone marrow, researchers have developed a new approach to the BMT.
In this study researchers plan to use stem cells collected from the blood stream of patient s relatives rather than from the bone marrow (blood progenitor/stem cell transplant). In addition, researchers plan to use low doses of chemotherapy and no radiation therapy to reduce side effects. The majority of the cancer killing effect will be the responsibility of the stem cell transplant rather than the chemotherapy.