The scientists from the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center (Seattle) managed to transplant their own genetically modified blood stem cells to patients suffering from brain cancer. This is the first attempt to protect human bone marrow from the toxic side effects of chemotherapy.
As a result of this operation, two patients with glioblastoma (an incurable disease) who participated in the experiment lived longer than doctors had predicted prior to the transplantation. Moreover, in one case the disease did not progress for three years after the intervention.
The author of the study, published in the Science Translational Medicine journal, Hans-Peter Kiem, MD, reported that after the transplantation of genetically modified stem cells, the patients tolerated chemotherapy better and without negative side effects. Kiem also noted that the main obstacle to the effective use of chemotherapy for treating such forms of cancer as glioblastoma is the toxicity of drugs that cause adverse side effects and destroy the bone marrow. This leads to the destruction of blood cells and the patient’s increased susceptibility to infections. Cessation or a pause in treatment, as well as lowering dosages, as a rule, leads to a less effective treatment.