IU Simon Cancer Center researcher's clinical trial may lead to safer treatments for blood cancers


INDIANAPOLIS -- (Jan. 13, 2009) -- Researchers with the Indiana University Melvin and Bren Simon Cancer Center are looking into ways to improve engraftment after human umbilical cord blood (UCB) transplants for patients with blood cancers.

Led by Sherif Farag, M.B.B.S., Ph.D., associate professor of medicine and director of the Hematological Malignancies Program and the Bone Marrow and Stem Cell Transplantation Program at the IU Simon Cancer Center, the researchers are  recruiting adult patients who have had an umbilical cord blood (UCB) transplant into a phase II clinical trial.

UCB transplantation is an alternative source of stem cells for patients who lack an available blood stem cell donor. However, in adults, engraftment -- the process in which the donated cells from a transplant start to grow and make new blood cells – happens slowly, which limits its effectiveness.

Because of that, Dr. Farag and colleagues will block a protein, CD26, to see if it speeds up engraftment.

Results from this trial may offer patients with blood cancers safer and more readily available treatments.

This clinical trial builds on previous ground-breaking studies done by Hal Broxmeyer, Ph.D., chair and the Mary Margaret Walther Professor of IU’s Department of Microbiology and Immunology and a researcher with the IU Simon Cancer Center. Broxmeyer found in the laboratory that inhibiting the protein CD26 enhances engraftment of low numbers of stem cells in animals.

The study is funded by the V Foundation for Cancer Research and the Signature Center Initiative at Indiana University - Purdue University Indianapolis.

If interested in participating, please contact Dr. Farag at (317) 278-0460 or Lisa Wood, coordinating research nurse, at (317) 274-1781.