Posts tagged ‘leukemia’
The description is simple: Blood and marrow stem cell transplants replace a person’s faulty stem cells with healthy ones.
The reality is complex: High doses of chemotherapy and radiation must be used to destroy the disease and “make room” for the new, nondiseased stem cells. The immune system is then essentially kick-started to start producing healthy cells on its own.
City of Hope’s numbers belie both: Physicians here have performed more than 11,000 blood and marrow stem cell transplants. Based on a 2012 report from the Center for International Blood and Marrow Transplant Research, City of Hope is the only transplant program in the country to achieve eight consecutive reporting years of “over performance” in one-year overall patient survival.
Perhaps only those who have been there – and back – can truly understand the significance of this achievement; what’s it’s like to have gotten another chance at life, to have survived not just a life-threatening cancer but the ordeal of the transplant itself. So, once a year, they get a chance to celebrate with the only others who come close to understanding – their transplant doctors, nurses and caregivers. Continue reading “Survivors, stem cell transplants – and a reason to celebrate” »
New DNA analyses of acute myeloid leukemia (AML) offer the best blueprint to date of the often fatal disease. Now, the challenge for physicians and scientists will be using those blueprints to build better treatments, said Ravi Bhatia, MD, director of Hematopoietic Stem Cell and Leukemia Research at City of Hope.
The project, which was started in 2005 to catalogue genetic mutations responsible for cancer, has published tumor genome information on breast, lung, colon, ovarian and brain cancers. An analysis of endometrial cancer DNA also was published the same day, in Nature.
Even as University of Minnesota physicians attempt the first cord blood transplant designed specifically to cure a pediatric patient of HIV and leukemia, City of Hope researchers have devised a program that could make such transplants more readily available.
The cord blood being used in the Minnesota transplant, which took place Tuesday, has a rare mutation shown to protect against HIV, and researchers at City of Hope have been working with cord blood banks and other institutions to identify blood with this mutation. Doing so could make the blood more readily available to those who could benefit.
The boy undergoing the treatment Tuesday was born with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, and several months ago developed a rare form of leukemia, according to the Minneapolis Star Tribune.
To date, only one patient in the world has been cured of HIV/AIDS by transplantation. Timothy Brown, known as the Berlin patient, was treated with bone marrow from a donor with a specific mutation in a cell surface protein. This mutation protects against HIV by preventing the virus from entering the T cells, ultimately preventing it from destroying the immune system. Continue reading “Cord blood transplants: Using a rare mutation to fight HIV” »
The sad fact is, despite doctors’ best efforts and chemotherapy’s best drugs, many people with acute lymphoblastic leukemia and acute myelogenous leukemia suffer a relapse after an initial remission. Then, they undergo a second round of best efforts and best drugs to achieve remission once more. Only then do they proceed to a bone marrow or stem cell transplant from a donor – a course of action which is the only chance for a cure. By that point, however, their odds are poor.
Perhaps, suggests City of Hope’s Stephen J. Forman, M.D., there’s a better way.
In an article published in the Feb. 14 issue of the journal Blood, Forman and co-author Jacob M. Rowe, M.D., recommend a series of actions that could improve the odds for patients with these diseases. Such actions, they say, could turn the likelihood of a cure from “myth” into “reality.”
Forman is chair of the Department of Hematology & Hematopoietic Cell Transplantation, as well as the Francis and Kathleen McNamara Distinguished Chair in Hematology and Hematopoietic Cell Transplantation. Rowe is director of the Department of Hematology at Shaare Zedek in Jerusalem.
In the article, “The myth of the second remission of acute leukemia in the adult,” the authors make their case by pointing out that most patients don’t achieve a second remission, and thus don’t get the chance for a cure. Continue reading “Leukemia’s second remission? Don’t count on it, expert says” »
As a veteran Los Angeles city firefighter, Gus Perez thought he had experienced it all – “from bringing people into the world to seeing them leave this world – and everything in between,” including the L.A. riots and the Northridge earthquake. Ten years ago, however, he was blindsided.
Applying for a transfer to the Hazardous Materials Unit in San Pedro, the 41-year-old Mission Viejo resident showed up for the routine physical expecting to ace it. After all, he had mastered the rigorous demands of firefighting for nearly 15 years, he and his surfboard regularly rode the waves – and he felt healthy and strong. Instead, abnormal blood work discovered during the physical led to an unbelievable diagnosis: chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML).
Perez came to City of Hope under the care of David Snyder, M.D., associate chair of the Department of Hematology & Hematopoietic Cell Transplantation.
He began receiving the drug Gleevec, which put him into remission. Given the drug’s success, he almost resigned himself to staying on it, yet was drawn to a riskier option: undergoing a bone marrow transplant. That was the option that represented his best chance at long-term survival. Continue reading “‘My cancer diagnosis: What I wish I’d known’ – Gus Perez” »
In fiction, opposites are the point of the story – a spark happens when they attract, igniting a massive explosion of emotions, creativity, consequences and magnificent lessons learned. In stem cell research, similarities are the point.
When it comes to translational medicine – bringing scientific discovery to patients as better, improved treatments – similarities create a spark that leads to creative frisson, driving medicine and technology forward.
On Thursday, City of Hope – in partnership with the Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm, Sweden – is hosting the third biannual symposium and meeting of the International Translational Regenerative Medicine Center.
The center was established by Beckman Research Institute of City of Hope and Karolinska Institutet to accelerate the pace of translating research and scientific discovery into improved treatments for patients. Through the center, researchers from City of Hope and Karolinska Institutet collaborate on stem cell research and technologies, utilizing both institutions’ strengths with on-site manufacturing facilities, state-of-the-art research laboratories and excellent clinical trial programs. Continue reading “Together, U.S., Swedish researchers accelerate stem cell research” »
Oprah Winfrey says that during her interview with Lance Armstrong, to be aired in two parts starting Thursday, he admitted to doping during his cycling career. That detail is feeding speculation among the public and the media about whether those doping activities may have contributed to his diagnosis of testicular cancer.
So far, it’s not possible to give a definitive answer to that question. The known connection between testicular cancer and common doping regimens is tenuous at best.
Further, although there’s been plenty of speculation about how Armstrong doped, there hasn’t been confirmation about what substances he used. The amounts and the duration of use – either before or after his cancer diagnosis and treatment – are also unconfirmed.
This is what’s currently known. Armstrong was diagnosed in 1996, at the age of 25, with advanced stage testicular cancer that had metastasized to his lungs, abdomen and brain. Testicular cancer is one of the most curable types of cancer, with a 95 percent survival rate if caught in an early stage when it’s confined to a testicle. It has an 80 percent survival rate if caught in more advanced stages, when it has spread to other organs. Continue reading “Can doping increase risk of cancer? Yes. Testicular cancer? Unknown.” »
One in a series of stories asking former patients to reflect upon their experience …
Artist Anita Finnegan initially dismissed her condition as a “bad flu,” but when she landed in a local emergency room in 2006, she learned she was “98 percent leukemic.” She was told she had less than 24 hours to live.
Undergoing months of chemotherapy and fighting life-threatening infections, Anita fended off the leukemia and, once stabilized, was transferred to City of Hope. There, she was placed under the care of Eileen Smith, M.D., associate director of clinical research in the Department of Hematology & Hematopoietic Cell Transplantation.
In 2007, Finnegan underwent hematopoietic cell transplantation, receiving healthy blood stem cells from a donor to replace her diseased marrow. After the requisite one-year waiting period, she and her donor began corresponding and talking by phone, and in 2011 Finnegan and Chicago resident Carolyn Rogers finally met at City of Hope’s Bone Marrow Transplant Reunion.
Finnegan has had a difficult journey back to health. After the transplant, for example, she spent months in the hospital fighting severe complications and later spent more than a year recovering in a small apartment in Hope and Parson Village on the grounds of City of Hope.
Through it all, she kept the same upbeat, persevering spirit reflected in the darkly whimsical art she creates in the Altadena home she shares with her husband, Ron, and their rescue poodle, Tito.
“Ron and I have been to hell and back – side by side,” says Finnegan. “The fact that I have life is the most amazing miracle. Ron, Tito and I are finding our way to better days.”
We asked Finnegan to look back at the time of her diagnosis and to ask herself what she knows now that she wishes she’d known then. What wisdom, soothing words, practical tips or just old-fashioned advice would she give her newly diagnosed self? Continue reading “‘My cancer diagnosis: What I wish I’d known’ – Anita Finnegan” »
In 2012, numerous advances, large and small, made a difference in cancer treatment. Research, treatment and care will continue to evolve in exciting ways in 2013. City of Hope cancer experts look to the year ahead, predicting that the following five fields will yield significant advances in cancer research and treatment.
1. Cancer Immunotherapies
Immunotherapies harness a patient’s own immune cells to kill cancer, avoiding much of the toxicity of current standard therapies such as chemotherapy. In 2012, T cell-based treatments demonstrated promising early results, with researchers at the University of Pennsylvania using neutered HIV to infect a patient’s own immune system to produce new anti-cancer T cells. And that’s just the beginning.
Stephen Forman, M.D., clinical director in City of Hope’s Department of Cancer Immunotherapeutics and Tumor Immunology, expects significant new inroads in this field, with City of Hope already developing its own unique immunotherapies against brain, blood and breast cancers.
“Our use of central memory T cells as part of an autologous [bone marrow] transplant is unique to our therapy and sets our approach apart from other T cell treatments in development,” said Forman, the Francis and Kathleen McNamara Distinguished Chair in Hematology and Hematopoietic Cell Transplantation. “Central memory T cells have the potential to establish a persistent, lifelong immunity to help prevent recurrence of lymphoma after transplant.” Continue reading “Cancer: 5 research areas to watch in 2013” »
On the surface, the idea of using HIV to treat leukemia might seem far-fetched, but researchers from the University of Pennsylvania were recently able to harness HIV’s ability to infect white blood cells, developing what seems to be a cancer cure – or at least total remission – for a handful of patients. And they’re not alone in using this increasingly promising approach.
The Pennsylvania team’s HIV-based treatment, presented at the American Society of Hematology meeting and reported this week by the New York Times, is a new addition to the numerous treatments in development using T cells, a type of white-blood cell. Known as immunotherapeutics, these therapies use a patient’s own immune system to fight disease.
At City of Hope, the Department of Cancer Immunotherapeutics and Tumor Immunology is developing T cell-based immunotherapeutics against brain tumors, lymphoma and breast cancers. Continue reading “Using HIV to cure leukemia? Maybe. Immune boost is key” »