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Cancer That Kills the Young May Have Met Its Match


Duke University researchers have collaborated with Yanik on the protocol and are beginning treatment of their third patient. Each of the ones they have seen has been two and one-half years old when accepted for the therapy. Children diagnosed after the age of one usually have advanced disease and their rate of survival is low.

"The two we have done are doing exceptionally well," says Timothy Driscoll, MD, of the Duke Pediatric Stem Cell Transplant Program. "What's nice about this therapy is that the tumor cells have little bumps that actually take up the chemical without harming the child's other cells.

"It's very exciting that we may be able to cure them and spare them the toxicity. The children tolerate this treatment very well."

Driscoll and his colleagues will be trying something new with their third patient. The young boy has so much damage to his bone marrow from previous radiation and chemotherapy and so many neuroblastoma cells in it that the purging process can't be used. "His bone marrow is just tired out," says Driscoll. Instead doctors will be using bone marrow from a sibling that is a complete match.

He agrees with Yanik that the next important step is follow-up of the patients to determine long-term prognosis.

To that end, Yanik and his University of Michigan team has embarked on a new trial with the University of California, San Francisco, Children's Hospital of Los Angeles, and the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia to use a common MIBG protocol and the stem cell purging process.

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