One of the biggest ideas in stem cell transplants is what is called a mini-transplant.
These transplants – also called non-meyloblative – are designed to be gentler versions of the traditional transplant, which requires strong medicines to suppress the patient’s immune system before a new set of stem cells (which will form a new immune system) is introduced. In the mini, the suppression is milder, which allows older patients who are less able to tolerate standard suppression therapy to receive treatment.
Patients in their 60s, 70s, and 80s (as well as younger patients) now undergo non-myeloablative transplants at SCCA. The majority (60 percent) never have to be hospitalized during their transplant process and complete their conditioning, stem cell infusion, and recovery entirely in outpatient settings.
Thanks to research at SCCA and the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, the mini transplant is getting used more widely and gives hope to an aging population. You can read one research paper from the Journal of the American Medical Association here. Additional research continues, and you can read about one study here.
These transplants are most often given to patients with blood cancers: leukemia, lymphoma or multiple myeloma. They can also be used to treat other blood disorders, including sickle cell anemia.
You can read more about mini-transplants on the SCCA website. Leading researcher Rainier Storb, MD., talks about his pioneering work on the mini transplant on this video.