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Role of autologous and allogeneic stem cell transplantation in myeloma

Abstract

The treatment of multiple myeloma (MM), a largely incurable B-cell hematologic malignancy, is changing dramatically. Autologous stem cell transplantation (SCT) and the approval of two new classes of drugs, immunomodulators and proteosome inhibitors, have resulted in improved response rates and increased overall survivals. Thalidomide, bortezomib and lenalidomide have been combined with corticosteroids, alkylators and anthracyclines in front-line MM treatment. Phase 2 and preliminary phase 3 studies have reported very high response rates and complete response rates formerly seen only with SCT. When patients with MM who have received these new drugs then proceed to transplant, major response rates are further increased. Owing to limited follow-up, it is unclear whether these higher response rates translate into increased survival. Despite these improvements, the disease remains incurable for all but a small fraction of patients. Allogeneic SCT is potentially curative, due in part to a graft-versus-myeloma effect but is limited by mortality. Mortality can be reduced through the use of lower intensity conditioning regimens but this comes at a cost of higher rates of disease progression and relapse. Strategies to improve outcomes of allogeneic transplants include more intensive, yet non-myeloablative conditioning regimens, tandem transplants, peripheral blood cells, graft engineering, post-transplant maintenance and targeted conditioning therapies.

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Acknowledgements

This study was supported in part by grants CA-18029, CA-47748, CA-18221 and CA-15704, from the National Cancer Institute, and HL 36444 from the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD, The Jose Carreras Foundation Against Leukemia, Barcelona, Spain.

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Bensinger, W. Role of autologous and allogeneic stem cell transplantation in myeloma. Leukemia 23, 442–448 (2009). https://doi.org/10.1038/leu.2008.396

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Keywords

  • multiple myeloma
  • autologous stem cell transplantation
  • allogeneic stem cell transplantation

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