Goal 3: Advance Translational Research

Allogeneic transplantation as a safe and universally available therapeutic strategy for treating non-malignant blood diseases

Can new advances in allogeneic blood or marrow transplantation (BMT) make the procedure a safe and universally available therapeutic strategy for treating non-malignant blood and immune disorders such as sickle cell anemia, thalassemia, aplastic anemia, and severe combined immune deficiency?

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Is this idea a Compelling Question (CQ) or Critical Challenge (CC)?: Compelling Question (CQ)

Details on the impact of addressing this CQ or CC:

The ability of allogeneic blood or marrow transplantation (BMT) to cure diverse non-malignant diseases is well-documented. However, widespread use in diseases such as sickle cell anemia that cause substantial morbidity and shorten life but are not immediately life-threatening, has been limited by transplant-related toxicity and mortality especially in the majority of these patients who lack HLA-matched donors. Several new therapeutic approaches now exist that are promising strategies, separately or in combination, for addressing issues of donor availability, graft rejection, organ toxicity and acute and chronic graft-versus-host disease more effectively. Evaluation and refinement of these therapeutic strategies in both preclinical and Phase I-III clinical trials now offers a real possibility that allogeneic BMT could be applied early in the course of these diseases, allowing normal growth, development, quality of life and lifespan. If successful, allogeneic BMT offers a major advantage over gene therapy approaches even if such approaches become possible in the future; i.e., allogeneic BMT can be done with low-dose, non-toxic conditioning while gene therapy requires high-dose myeloablative therapy which not only can be toxic/fatal to these patients who often have end-organ dysfunction but also universally induces infertility, a major concern of patient groups who usually survive beyond child-bearing years.

Feasibility and challenges of addressing this CQ or CC:

There are now single institution and registry (CIBMTR) data showing that related haploidentical allogeneic BMT using post-transplantation cyclophosphamide (PTCy) produces results similar to those seen with HLA-matched sibling donors. Accordingly, every patient in need of allogeneic BMT now can safely undergo the procedure, including those ethnic groups (such as African-Americans and Hispanics) who are unlikely to find a donor in unrelated registries. Combining PTCy with other approaches for preventing graft-versus-host disease (GVHD) can even eliminate GVHD and transplant-related mortality. Although recurrence of malignant diseases remains an issue, especially as GVHD is eliminated, relapse is not a concern for non-malignant diseases after successful allogeneic engraftment. Moreover, the average cost of allogeneic BMT, about $150K, is a cost-savings over the long-term management of many of these diseases. The NHLBI-funded BMT Clinical Trials Network (CTN) has developed the infrastructure to rapidly and efficiently carry out large multi-institutional BMT trials. Over the last 15 year, thousands of patients have been entered on BMT CTN trials. Of note, African-Americans and Hispanics remarkably represent 30% of the accruals on one such trial, CTN1101, studying unrelated umbilical cord and related haploidentical allogeneic BMT. However, funding for the infrastructure for continuing this work remains problematic, since BMT trials generally lack corporate funding.

Name of idea submitter and other team members who worked on this idea: Rick Jones


164 net votes
214 up votes
50 down votes
Idea No. 425