A recent trial involving 12 cancer patients has shown the ability of a natural compound to facilitate and speed up engraftment of stem cells in the patients receiving a cord blood stem cell transplant. This has been demonstrated in clinical trial lead by scientists from Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Boston, Massachusetts, and presented at the 2011 annual meeting of American Society of Hematology.
The trial aimed to find a solution to a shortcoming of stem cell therapy involving cord blood cells, namely, the slow engraftment of stem cells from umbilical cord blood in the recipients due to their low numbers transplanted as compared with adult stem cell transplants. At the same time, for patients who lack a closely-matched donors of adult stem cells, umbilical cord transplants are an option.
In the trial, the patients underwent chemotherapy with reduced intensity and then received a cord blood stem cell transplant treated with a compound named FT1050. In preclinical studies, FT1050 showed the ability to facilitate and accelerate blood-forming (hematopoietic) stem cell engraftment.
The goal of the study was to assess the efficacy and safety of the cord blood cell transplants treated with FT1050. In none of 12 recipients participating in the study, stem cells failed to engraft, and the engraftment occurred 3 to 4 days faster compared with standard cord blood stem cells. Levels of neutrophils (white blood cells) returned to normal in almost the same terms as for adult stem cell transplants. Side-effects of the therapy were minimal.
The researchers plan to test the method in a larger group of pateints.
The clinical trial was sponsored by Fate Therapeutics, Inc., San Diego, California, the company developing ProHema product which consists of hematopoietic stem cells treated with FT1050.