Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Borrowing a New Immune System from your Family

One of the problems with a hematopoietic stem cell transplant (HSCT) is that what you want is the new immune soldiers to march in, destroy ALL the bad guys and all their children and their children's children, then go home. It also helps if they bulldoze some of their favorite hiding places. All this and please no civilian casualties.

The problem is that if you successfully engraft (sadly not my story), then the soldiers (the new 100%  donor T cells and their allies)  are with you forever and these are trained fighters, and you, Mr. or Ms. Recipient, look like a prime target to rape and pillage. So while they might wipe out any strangling insurgents, they may also cause your life to be miserable with graft versus host disease (GVHD).

Comes along a fine study by Veronika Bachanova, MD, PhD  that uses natural killer cells harvested from a parent or child or sibling to do the search and destroy work. Since they are only a halploid (1/2) match your body rejects them after several weeks. 

In that time, they have shrunk your nodes and cleaned out your blood, marrow and spleen (if you still have one, that is) of any leukemia.

Great idea.  An elite force that attacks, then disappears into the night. Pretty non-toxic.

Especially makes sense if you are heading to a transplant, but can't shrink down some pesky nodes with FRC or OFAR or whatever.

Or if you can't find a donor that is a close enough match.

Also may be a real option for cleaning up residual disease. Like in my  gut nodes. Could it do a thorough enough job, like its big diploid (full match) sister, a HSCT, to be curative?  Way to early to tell.

Truth is that the only way be are ever going to cure this disease is through clinical trial, and if you think as I do that an immunological approach is a good place to bet your  money or your life, take a look-see at:

Natural Killer Cells With Rituximab In Patients With CD20 Positive Relapsed Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma or Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia
(MT2007-12) Identifier: NCT00625729

Clinical Trials Office – Masonic Cancer Center at University of Minnesota
Phone: 612-624-2620, 612-273-2800, or toll free 888-601-0787

Principal Investigator: Dr. Veronika Bachanova
Phone: 612-624-0123

What I have given you is a gross oversimplification.

Chaya Venkat has a more detailed and referenced review of the study, and I thank her  (again) for her tireless work, sponsorship, and the great material on her web site:

The PI is a wonderful and kind person. Contact her if you are seriously considering the trial, or email me at and we can chat.

For myself,  while I am not flying off to Minnesota next week, I am definitely keep this study on my shelf in easy reach should  the need arise.

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Blogger Judy Cleri said...

Hello Dr. K,

Sounds like a very interesting study and to the common man, it makes a lot of sense. Something that people should definately keep in mind when things don't go as planned.

Now, I need to brag a little bit.....My daughter Elizabeth is speaking at a gala for raising funds for UCI cancer ward this Saturday at the Newport Harbor Yaught Club. She was asked to speak by her Oncologist......I am very proud of her. Out of all his patients that he has asked her to speak is awesome. She will be celebrating her 5 year anniversay this June and we are poud to say that she has reamins cancer free.
Now, we just need to work on the LSE (Lupus)so in 5 years I can say she is LSE free.

May today bring you health and happiness. Have a blessed day.

Oh more thing...... today is D day for my Ducks so I must one more time say it.......GO DUCKS......


May 14, 2009 at 9:38 AM  
Blogger Barry B. said...

I did call sometime previously and it requires that you have a living child or parent. I have neither. I have just one estranged sister whom I would not ask to do anything.

I agree it's a promising start, but not for everyone, since I believes it requires people to go to a full-blown transplant.

One of the mini-holy grails in CLL is the effectiveness of a transplant, without the permanent change in your blood-producing stem cell array.

We all just got CLL way too early. If it just had waited to the normal age of diagnosis between 65 and 72 (estimates vary, that would be eight to fourteen years away for me), I'd face a much different (and longer) future.

I, too, worry that healthy Americans don't understand what the government wants to take away from you.

Those who know, need to call their congressman and Senators, and tell them their stories.

This terrible idea can be stopped.

May 20, 2009 at 8:34 AM  

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