Alternatives to Matched Sibling Donation

Lurie Children’s is part of a select group of cancer centers in Europe, the United States and Israel that are actively enrolling patients for a study that tests the safety and efficacy of StemEx®. StemEx is a potential alternative transplantation option for adolescents and adults with leukemia, lymphoma and other high-risk hematological malignancies who are unable to find a matched stem cell donation. StemEx is being developed by Jerusalem-based biomedical company Gamida Cell and Teva Pharmaceutical Industries.

For many patients suffering from blood-based cancers, such as leukemia and lymphoma, the odds of survival have been historically poor because they cannot find a suitable matched stem cell donor. According to the National Marrow Donor Program, each year in the United States more than 70% of the 35,000 patients with life-threatening diseases who could benefit from a stem cell transplant cannot be fully matched with a donor.

Unique Cellular Technology

“We hope that this unique cellular technology will benefit our transplant patients at Lurie Children's. We also believe that this new methodology may expand the role for stem cell transplantation in treating life-threatening diseases, especially in patients without matched donors,” said lead investigator Sonali Chaudhury, MD, attending physician in the Division of Hematology, Oncology and Stem Cell Transplantation at Lurie Children’s and assistant professor of pediatrics at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine.

Research shows that cells derived from umbilical cord blood (UCB) can effectively be used for stem cell transplantation. In addition, cord blood transplants have been associated with a reduced risk for graft-versus-host disease (GvHD). StemEx is a graft of expanded stem/progenitor cells, derived from a single unit of umbilical cord blood and transplanted in combination with non-expanded cells from the same unit.

Treatment Is Boosted for Adolescents & Adults

While UCB has been used mainly for the treatment of small children, the increase in stem/progenitor cells through StemEx, boosts the therapeutic potential of this treatment for adolescents and adults. The preliminary results of the Phase I/II study of StemEx presented at the 2004 Annual Meeting of the American Society of Hematology (ASH) in San Diego, California, encouraged the further investigation of the safety and efficacy of StemEx in the ExCell study.

The ExCell study is recruiting patients ages 12 to 55, with leukemia or lymphoma, who meet all of the eligibility criteria of the study. All of the enrolled patients will receive StemEx. Families interested in learning more about eligibility criteria for the study and how to enroll should call Melissa Ortiz at 312.227.4873.