The journal Leukemia published not one but two articles (found here and here) regarding a new drug that facilitates and improves bone marrow donation and transplantation. Researchers hope to make the operation safer and more effective for patients.
Truly a life-saving procedure, the stem cell transplant is designed to restore the body’s blood making ability for those battling certain types of cancer, like leukemia, or immune deficiency diseases. Even though it presents countless risks, each year, this is the last resort for tens of thousands of people around the world.
The team from Cincinnati Children’s Cancer and Blood Diseases Institute identified a Cdc42 activity-specific inhibitor (CASIN) that can help with several stages of the process. In order to assimilate the new donor cells, hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs), existing ones need to be eradicated using chemotherapy, exposing patients to toxic medication.
“Our data demonstrate that the new regimen of CASIN application has the potential to improve both sides of the transplant practice. It mobilizes higher quality donor HSCs during stem cell harvest and it would condition transplant patients beforehand to beforehand engraftment efficiency”, said Yi Zheng, senior investigator on both studies and director of Experimental Hematology and Cancer Biology.
In the first study, CASIN was able to mobilize blood-making cells and promote “hematopoietic stem/progenitor cell egress” from bone marrow. These samples have better long-term reconstitution potential following transplant, increasing chances of them taking on in the new host.
The second article detailed how using CASIN on the recipient made the body more receptive to new and healthy blood stem cells by making existing cells migrate to peripheral blood. This would lessen the amount of chemo required.
This new drug represents an important step towards improving stem cell transplant procedures, reducing risks for patients and significantly increasing success rates.