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University of Rochester Medical Center scientists are testing a new approach to speed a patient's recovery of blood counts during a vulnerable period after a stem-cell transplant, according to a study published in the journal Stem Cells.
Laura M. Calvi, M.D., and Rebecca L. Porter, an M.D./Ph.D. student in Calvi's lab, reported that prostaglandin E2 (PGE2), a drug previously used to treat stomach ulcers, boosts blood production following an assault on the bone marrow from radiation or chemotherapy. Although their study was done in mice, Calvi believes it has significance for patients in the future.
"Our research suggests exciting potential to remedy myelosuppression," said Calvi, an associate professor of Medicine at URMC, with a special interest in endocrine/metabolism and the way blood stem cells behave. "During the first six weeks or so after a transplant, patients can easily acquire serious infections due to low blood counts. It's during this window that we're investigating new opportunities for replenishing cells in the bone marrow, and understanding the mechanisms by which this occurs."
Stem cell transplants, also known as bone marrow transplants or peripheral blood transplants, can be life-saving therapies for people with leukemia, other blood cancers, or blood disorders. The James P. Wilmot Cancer Center at URMC performs about 120 transplants a year, making it the largest program in western New York.