Antibodies from rabbits improve survival and relapse outcomes of leukemia and myelodysplasia

July 6, 2012

Researchers at Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) Massey Cancer Center's Bone Marrow Transplant Program have demonstrated that the use of antibodies derived from rabbits can improve the survival and relapse outcomes of leukemia and myelodysplasia patients receiving a stem cell transplant from an unrelated donor.

Recently published in the journal , a study led by Amir Toor, M.D., hematologist-oncologist in the Bone Marrow Transplant Program and member of the Developmental Therapeutics program at VCU Massey Cancer Center, retrospectively compared the outcomes of 50 who received rabbit anti-thymocyte globulin (ATG) before receiving a transplant of stem cells from an unrelated donor to the outcomes of 48 patients who received a transplant of stem cells from a related donor. While unrelated typically have poorer outcomes than related stem cell transplants, the results from this study showed similar outcomes for each group in terms of mortality, relapse and the development of graft-versus-host disease (GVHD), a common complication that can occur after a stem cell or in which the newly transplanted material attacks the transplant recipient's body.

"Unfortunately, we can't always find a related (genetically similar) donor for patients in need of stem cell transplantation," says Toor, who is also associate professor of internal medicine in the Department of Hematology, Oncology and Palliative Care at VCU School of Medicine. "Obtaining better outcomes with unrelated donor stem cell transplants could represent a significant advancement in extending the lives of more patients with ."

Unrelated donor stem cell transplants are generally considered a high-risk treatment due to historically higher rates of disease relapse and GVHD in comparison to transplanted from donors related to the patients. The results of the study indicated no survival differences between the two groups of patients regardless of age or diagnosis. Relapse rates and incidence of GVHD were also similar. Chronic GVHD, on the other hand, was diagnosed less frequently in patients in the ATG group. In addition, the researchers noticed a higher rate of infections in patients receiving the highest dose of ATG, but this risk was diminished in patients who received slightly lower doses.

This study is one of the first to use ATG in . ATG works by reducing the number of circulating T-lymphocytes, a key component of the immune system. It is primarily used in organ transplantation to prevent patients' immune systems from rejecting transplanted tissue. It is also used to treat aplastic anemia, a condition where the does not create enough new cells. Currently, there are two types of ATG agents available for clinical use. The one used in this study is derived from rabbit antibodies while the other is derived from horse antibodies.

"Our study results should serve as a guide for designing future clinical trials using ATG to improve outcomes in unrelated donor stem cell transplants," says Toor. "Our findings are encouraging. If many of the risks commonly associated with unrelated donor stem are reduced, transplantation becomes an option for more patients."

Explore further: Bone marrow and blood stem cell transplant survival rates equal, when donor is unrelated to patient

More information: The full manuscript of the study is available online at: hospitalmedicine.ucsf.edu/down … antation_portier.pdf

Related Stories

Bone marrow and blood stem cell transplant survival rates equal, when donor is unrelated to patient

December 12, 2011
Patients who receive a blood stem cell transplant from a donor outside of their family to treat leukemia and other blood diseases are more likely to have graft failure but less likely to experience graft-versus-host disease, ...

New half-match bone marrow transplant procedure yields promising outcomes for cancer patients

September 1, 2011
Half-matched bone marrow or stem cell transplants for blood cancer patients have typically been associated with disappointing clinical outcomes. However, a clinical trial conducted at the Kimmel Cancer Center at Jefferson ...

Biomarker detects graft-versus-host-disease in cancer patients after bone marrow transplant

October 21, 2011
A University of Michigan Health System-led team of researchers has found a biomarker they believe can help rapidly identify one of the most serious complications in patients with leukemia, lymphoma and other blood disorders ...

Recommended for you

Hibernating ground squirrels provide clues to new stroke treatments

November 17, 2017
In the fight against brain damage caused by stroke, researchers have turned to an unlikely source of inspiration: hibernating ground squirrels.

Age and gut bacteria contribute to multiple sclerosis disease progression

November 17, 2017
Researchers at Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School published a study suggesting that gut bacteria at young age can contribute to multiple sclerosis (MS) disease onset and progression.

Molecular guardian defends cells, organs against excess cholesterol

November 16, 2017
A team of researchers at the Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health has illuminated a critical player in cholesterol metabolism that acts as a molecular guardian in cells to help maintain cholesterol levels within a safe, ...

Prototype ear plug sensor could improve monitoring of vital signs

November 16, 2017
Scientists have developed a sensor that fits in the ear, with the aim of monitoring the heart, brain and lungs functions for health and fitness.

Ancient enzyme could boost power of liquid biopsies to detect and profile cancers

November 16, 2017
Scientists are developing a set of medical tests called liquid biopsies that can rapidly detect the presence of cancers, infectious diseases and other conditions from only a small blood sample. Researchers at The University ...

FDA to crack down on risky stem cell offerings

November 16, 2017
U.S. health authorities announced plans Thursday to crack down on doctors pushing stem cell procedures that pose the gravest risks to patients amid an effort to police a burgeoning medical field that previously has received ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.