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Trial at Jefferson shows new drug may help cancer patients who need stem cell transplants

A new drug may help cancer patients mobilize the cells necessary to restore their blood-forming system after high-dose chemotherapy, according to results from a clinical trial at the Kimmel Cancer Center at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital in Philadelphia and at other centers across the nation.

In the phase II trial, researchers were attempting to determine if patients with multiple myeloma or non-Hodgkin's lymphoma who received the drug AMD-3100 along with the standard drug G-CSF (granulocyte-colony stimulating factor) would have more stem cells available for transplantation.

AMD-3100 blocks a specific cellular receptor, triggering the movement of stem cells out of the bone marrow and into the circulating blood, boosting the supply of marrow stem cells available for transplantation. Stem cell transplantation entails collecting certain types of cells known as hematopoietic stem cells from patients who receive treatment with high-dose radiation and/or chemotherapy for cancers such as leukemias, lymphomas and multiple myeloma, all of which involve the blood and immune system. The cells, once returned to the body, help restore the blood-forming system within the bone marrow and the body's immune system, which is severely damaged if not destroyed by treatment.

Stem cell transplantation is considered "front-line therapy for multiple myeloma, or cancer of the bone marrow, and for high-risk leukemia and lymphoma patients," says Neal Flomenberg, M.D., professor of medicine and director of medical oncology at Jefferson Medical College of Thomas Jefferson University, who led the trial at Jefferson.

The researchers found that all of the 25 patients (10 patients with multiple myeloma and 15 patients with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma) given the drug combination could move enough cells from the marrow to the bloodstream compared to only 64 percent of those who had G-CSF alone. They report their results September 1, 2005 in the journal Blood.

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