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Can Transplants Cure CLL?

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Published on May 11, 2018

Have we reached a curative strategy for chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL)? Is it possible for transplants to change a patient’s prognosis? Dedicated researcher Dr. Michael Keating from The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center shares findings on CLL patient outcomes from allogeneic stem cell transplants. Dr. Keating also explains how transplants have influenced the field of immunotherapy, including the development of CAR T-cell therapy and checkpoint inhibitors, and how the technology of transplants has improved over time. Watch now to find out more. 

Provided by CLL Global Research Foundation, which received support from AbbVie Inc., Gilead Sciences, Inc., Pharmacyclics LLC and TG Therapeutics. It is produced by Patient Power in collaboration with The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center.

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Transcript | Can Transplants Cure CLL?

Please remember the opinions expressed on Patient Power are not necessarily the views of our sponsors, contributors, partners or Patient Power. Our discussions are not a substitute for seeking medical advice or care from your own doctor. That’s how you’ll get care that’s most appropriate for you.

Jeff Folloder:               

Dr. Jackie, we’ve talked about inhibitors, and monoclonal antibodies, and traditional chemo. What are some of the other options that are available for treatment, that you see in practice?

Dr. Broadway-Duren:

Well, recently, they are using the pathway inhibitors, and checkpoint inhibitors, as well. Which operate at a—in a different manner, but they are effective in providing roadblocks, if you will, so that the CLL cells will not continue to receive signaling that they require, to continue to grow. 

Jeff Folloder:               

What about stem cell transplants? Is that still an option for CLL treatment?

Dr. Broadway-Duren:

I suppose it is an option for some patients, but I’m gonna punt that ball up to Dr. Keating.

Dr. Keating:                 

You know, one of the things that was the introductory sentence of almost every manuscript that we had on CLL, is, CLL is the most common leukemia in the western world, and it is incurable. But, the first thing that actually cured CLL was allogeneic stem cell transplant, that is, that you got stem cells, and immune cells, from someone else. Because the patient’s own immune cells weren’t able to control the leukemia cells, but someone else’s were. And, I think that that has been one of the building blocks of the way we think of the importance of immune therapy.

These days. So, when you read about CAR-T cells, and checkpoint inhibitors, that are taking away the tolerance, and various other aspects, like vaccines, etc., the immune therapy has learned a lot from people with—that had allogeneic transplant. The problem was that, while they were very effective, A) they were very risky, a number of patients died, and the younger patients, that is anyone that’s younger than me, would actually do okay. But, the older you got, the less likely you were to survive the transplant. And, there was a lot of residual side effects that were left. 

But, transplants are getting better and better, and the things that we’ve learned from the transplants are the things that have led to these other forms of immunotherapy. And, I think the regular allogeneic transplants were the things that said, well, CLLs probably a pretty good target, for immune therapy. 

Please remember the opinions expressed on Patient Power are not necessarily the views of our sponsors, contributors, partners or Patient Power. Our discussions are not a substitute for seeking medical advice or care from your own doctor. That’s how you’ll get care that’s most appropriate for you.

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