Although the outcome for Philadelphia positive (Ph+) acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) with conventional chemotherapy is poor, the outcome after a sibling-matched allogeneic bone marrow transplantation (BMT) seems to be significantly better. The surprising success of allogeneic BMT may be because of disease response to high-dose chemotherapy combined with a graft-versus-leukemia effect. However, less than 30% of patients have a matched related donor available, and some of them will be too old/not fit for conventional BMT. While young patients who do not have a matched related donor should be considered for matched unrelated donor (MUD) transplant, older patients may be treated with autologous stem cell transplantation (ASCT) or rarely considered for a low-intensity MUD transplant. The efficacy of autologous BMT compared with chemotherapy is still debatable, although the new tyrosine kinase inhibitor Imatinib may be used for pretransplant purging/post-transplant therapy, aiming to improve autologous and allogeneic BMT results. The advantage of low-intensity sib/MUD allograft compared with chemotherapy is not proven either and is currently under investigation. However, if shown to be curative, low-intensity allograft may significantly improve the outcome of older Ph+ ALL patients, who are not eligible for conventional allograft.
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We are grateful to Dr Rodrigo Martino for giving us his permission to quote his unpublished results.
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Avivi, I., Goldstone, A. Bone marrow transplant in Ph+ ALL patients. Bone Marrow Transplant 31, 623–632 (2003). https://doi.org/10.1038/sj.bmt.1703899
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