A novel treatment for scientists from Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Centre might improve survival rates of leukemia and pre-leukemia patients.
They used a radiolabeled antibody to deliver targeted doses of radiation, followed by a stem cell transplant, to successfully treat a group of leukemia and pre-leukemia patients,
The study showed that patients with advanced acute myeloid leukemia or high-risk myelodysplastic syndrome - a pre-leukemic condition - experienced a remission with the help of combination of low-intensity chemotherapy, targeted radiation delivery by an antibody and a stem-cell transplant.
The findings revealed that forty percent of the patients were alive a year after treatment and approximately 35 percent had survived three years, about the same rates as patients who received similar treatment but whose disease was already in remission and who had much more favourable risk for relapse when therapy began.
According to Dr John Pagel, a transplant oncologist and assistant member of the Hutchinson Center's Clinical Research Division, patients over the age of 50 with active, advanced leukemia and myelodysplastic syndrome pose the most difficult treatment challenges because standard transplant therapy rarely works.
"The results appear to be very encouraging and warrant us to study it further for patients who really have no significant other curative options," he added.
The results of the research appear online in the journal Blood.