The Unmet Medical Needs of Hematological Cancers:
Hematologic cancers (HCs) represent about 10% of all cancers and the lifetime risk of developing an HC is 5%. HC affects adults and children alike. Each year in North America:
Nearly 200,000 new cases are diagnosed and,
More than 500,000 potential years of life are lost
Allogeneic Hematopoietic Cell Transplantation:
50% of patients will develop a resistance to standard of care chemotherapy and eventually die.
Allogeneic hematopoietic cell transplantation (AHCT) is:
- One of the most important medical breakthroughs of the last 50 years
- Curative for ~50% of refractory HCs
- By far the most effective form of cancer immunotherapy
Challenges of Allogeneic Hematopoietic Cell Transplantation:
The use of AHCT is hampered by two important factors:
- the risk of a devastating complication, graft-vs.-host disease (GVHD=donor cells attacking the patient)
GVHD results in inflammatory and/or fibrotic damage of various organs, typically, the intestine, skin, liver and lungs. Moreover, the mandatory use of immunosuppressive therapy for GVHD prevention or treatment predisposes patients to life-threatening infections. As such, GVHD-mediated tissue damage and the consequences of GVHD treatment are the most frequent causes of morbidity and non-neoplastic mortality after AHCT.
- the outcome of AHCT is unpredictable
The inability to predict the occurrence of GVHD and the strength of the anti-HC response seriously limits the success rate of AHCT and leads to a sub-optimal use of this unique curative treatment.