Antibody Tx Finds Greater Benefits for Leukemia Patients, Study Finds

Antibody therapy before stem cell transplant may benefit patients with acute leukemia
Antibody therapy before stem cell transplant may benefit patients with acute leukemia

HealthDay News — Antibody therapy before stem cell transplant may benefit patients with acute leukemia, according to research published in the January 7 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

The study included 168 leukemia patients treated at 27 different centers. The volunteers were randomly assigned to receive antihuman T-lymphocyte immune globulin (ATG) or not. After an average follow-up of two years, 32.2% of the patients given ATG had chronic graft-versus-host disease. But, 68.7% of patients who weren't given ATG had chronic graft-versus-host disease.

At two years, the survival rate was similar in patients who received ATG or didn't. But, the rate of survival in which they were free from chronic graft-versus-host disease and cancer recurrence was significantly better among patients given the antibody -- 36.6 versus 16.8%, the researchers found.

"Graft-versus-host disease is the most serious complication after stem cell transplantation," lead researcher Francesca Bonifazi, MD, from the Institute of Hematology at Bologna University in Italy, told HealthDay. "Using [ATG] reduces the risk of complications of stem cell transplants without increasing the risk of leukemia recurrence and infections."

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