Technology

UM171 saves another life | Technology Org

If no compatible family or unrelated donor can be found, stem cells from a semi-identical family donor, also known as a haploidentical donor, may be considered, under certain conditions, as an alternative source of cells. However, a family member must be healthy and available for such a procedure; the young man in this case did not have that option.

Cord blood transplantation, which is less demanding in terms of compatibility, is a good option for many patients requiring a stem cell transplant. On the other hand, cord blood generally does not contain enough stem cells for an adult patient weighing more than 70 kg; it produces a slow rise in white blood cells with an increased risk of often fatal infections.

In addition, the rate of graft rejection – the destruction of infused cord cells by the recipient’s immune system – is very high in patients with severe aplastic anemia who have received multiple blood transfusions.

“It was after having exhausted all our treatment options that UM171, which had already proven itself in a clinical trial in blood cancer patients, came into play,” said UdeM medical professor Jean Roy, a hematologist and clinical researcher at the MRH.

35-fold increase

“As well as increasing the number of stem cells in a unit of umbilical cord blood by an average of 35 times, it greatly reduces the risk of a frequent long-term immunological complication (graft-versus-host disease) requiring years of use of toxic immunosuppressive drugs.”

The researchers’ success confirms the excellent performance of UM171, which has already been demonstrated in two other studies conducted by iHOTC research teams with very encouraging results. A third study is now underway.

“This young man’s story and the other studies with UM171 clearly demonstrate how innovative clinical research, set up by local investigators, can create a culture of excellence and improve care to save more lives,” said IHOTC director Denis Claude Roy.

“The future will certainly bring us more such accomplishments, and that’s very encouraging.”

Maisonneuve-Rosemont Hospital is one of 26 institutions that are part of the Centre intégré universitaire de santé et de services sociaux de l’Est-de-l’Île-de-Montréal, serving over half a million Montrealers.

Source: University of Montreal

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