A major focus for City of Hope researchers has been creating ways to reduce the incidence of major transplant risks such as infection and relapse. They publish their results in prominent peer-reviewed medical journals.
One of these innovative protocols, nonmyeloablative transplants, has allowed patients who could not tolerate the traditional pre-transplant regiments to become candidates for the procedure.
Originally, pre-transplant protocols required high-dose chemotherapy and/or high-dose whole-body irradiation. For elderly patients or patients with other diseases, these protocols were too demanding and often excluded them from transplants.
In order to improve both the safety of transplantation and its applicability to a larger number of patients, City of Hope developed an approach in 1998 for a “mini” transplant. These transplants rely less on the heavy doses of chemotherapy and radiation and more on the antitumor effects of the graft itself (known as a graft-versus-tumor effect).
This novel approach has allowed for transplants in patients who are older, including patients in their 70s, who would previously not have been eligible for a transplant. These patients, with conditions such as leukemia, myeloma, lymphoma and myelodysplasia, have been significantly helped – even cured – by mini transplants.
The City of Hope Hematologic Neoplasia Program was awarded a Specialized Program of Research Excellence (SPORE) grant to further its work in utilizing transplant and non-transplant approaches for the treatment of malignant lymphoma and Hodgkin lymphoma. This SPORE is one of only three SPORE awards granted in the United States and builds upon the expertise in the transplant and cancer immunotherapy programs at City of Hope.
The City of Hope’s HCT Program has been continuously funded for nearly 30 years by the National Cancer Institute (NCI) to develop innovative therapies for people battling leukemia, lymphoma and other cancers. The NCI grant supports continuing research aimed at improving the outcome for patients undergoing either autologous or allogeneic transplant for hematologic cancer. The grant also allows researchers at City of Hope to develop laboratory-based clinical studies to extend the boundaries of HCT into new areas. These studies include the development of therapies incorporating the emerging sciences of gene transfer, molecular biology, radioimmunotherapy, cellular immunotherapy and genetics into allogeneic and autologous transplant.
City of Hope physicians and researchers continue to lead the way in improving treatments and outcomes for patients with myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS). City of Hope’s Clinical and Translational Research Program has had funding for the Hematopoietic Cell Transplantation Program by the National Cancer Institute since 1981. The MDS Foundation recognized City of Hope as a Center of Excellence for MDS in 1998 in recognition of the program’s basic and clinical research. designation.
T cells are a powerful part of the immune system. A new approach being studied at City of Hope involves redirecting T cells to recognize cancer cells specific to lymphoma and leukemia. Researchers are taking T cells from patients with these cancers and genetically modifying them to target and destroy the malignant T cells. Studies are focusing on patients with recurrent diffuse large cell lymphoma, acute lymphoblastic leukemia who are undergoing autologous stem cell transplantation.
City of Hope recognizes the importance of maintaining contact with all transplant patients. Our transplant program established a formal
Long-term Follow-up Program
in 1998 that follows all patients who have received a transplant at City of Hope. The Long-term Follow-up Program helps researchers compile data on long-term outcomes to increase awareness of the kinds of problems, both physical and psychological, that some patients face after transplant, so patients can receive continuing advice, information and care.