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Marrow donors: reaching beyond family.

Marrow donors: Reaching beyon family

Chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML) eventually will kill virtually all the 13,000 U.S. individuals diagnosed with it this year unless they can receive a complete replacement of their cancerous bone marrow. Replacing marrow without stimulating a life-threatening immune reaction requires a donor with marrow so genetically similar that doctors have long believed only a sibling would do. Even among siblings, tests show that only about half have marrow similar enough to prove usefull for a CML-affected individual.

In recent years, however, cancer specialists have come to suspect that bone marrow from unrelated donors, if carefully screened for critical markers, might prove similar enough for use in CML patients. Philip McGlave of the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis and his colleagues sought to test that hypothesis. In the largest such trial to date, the team performed nonfamilial bone marrow transplants on 142 CML patients between April 1985 and October 1988. Data so far indicate a 10 percent rate of graft failure--equal to that seen in transplants using sibling marrow. On the basis of current trends, the two groups have similar projections of disease-free survival.

The utility of nonsibling marrow "should greatly increase the availability of this curative procedure," says McGlave, adding that unrelated marrow may prove useful for other marrow-related diseases, including some types of red blood cell abnormalities. He notes that the National Bone Marrow Donor Program, recently created with congressional funding, has already registered more than 35,000 potential marrow donors.

The program hopes to attract 100,000 U.S. donors and provide computer links around the world to ease the search for compatible marrow.
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Title Annotation:from annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology
Author:Weiss, Rick
Publication:Science News
Date:Jun 3, 1989
Words:272
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