Aug 23 2013

Chronic Myelogenous Leukemia and Stem Cell Treatments

Posted by Martin Smithmyer

What is Chronic Myelogenous Leukemia?

Chronic Myelogenous Leukemia, also known as CML, is a cancer of the white blood cells where the bone marrow produces an unregulated quantity of white blood cells. It is a slow progressing blood and bone marrow disease that occurs mostly during or after middle age, very rarely occurring in children.

A person with CML produces too many of the white blood cell called granulocytes. The granulocytes do not become healthy white blood cells and build up in the bone marrow, not allowing space for healthy white blood cells, red blood cells or platelets. Because of this, infection, anemia, or easy bleeding may occur.

Treatment kills the cancerous cells, but also damages the bone marrow stem cells. A stem cell transplant can then performed to replenish bone marrow cells killed off from the radiation. The idea that stem cells can form into bone marrow cells was proven by 1970’s by E. Donnall Thomas, a Noble Prize winner in Physiology and Medicine. This has been the only consistently curative treatment of CML.

Chronic Myelogenous Leukemia and Clinical Trials

A clinical trial using umbilical cord blood stem cells for a stem cell transplant in Leukemia patients following chemo therapy began in 2009. This trial is taking place at Cancer Research UK and is being conducted by Dr. Rachel Hough. The research is supported by ECMC, NCRN, and UCL


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