January 8, 2001

INVESTIGATIONAL KIDNEY CANCER THERAPY BEING EVALUATED AT UCSD

cancer center logoPhysicians with the UCSD Blood and Marrow Transplant Program are evaluating an experimental type of stem cell transplant for its effectiveness against advanced kidney cancer, a disease known to be highly resistant to conventional therapy and usually fatal.

This approach, called a nonmyeloablative allogeneic peripheral-blood stem-cell transplant, has shown promise in a small research study recently conducted at the National Institutes of Health (NIH). In that study of 19 patients, 53 percent had either complete or partial regression of their disease. Some patients have remained completely free of disease more than two years after treatment.*

Advanced kidney cancer is usually fatal in less than a year. Fewer than 10 percent of people with kidney cancer survive for more than five years.

Asad Bashey, M.D. Ph.D.

“The NIH study was small, but the results were so dramatic we believe they represent a tremendous advance against this disease,” said the UCSD study’s principal investigator Asad Bashey, M.D., Ph.D., member of UCSD Cancer Center and assistant professor of medicine at UCSD School of Medicine. “These early results are particularly exciting when you consider that we’ve had precious little to offer patients who were not helped by conventional therapy.”

The UCSD clinical trial is open to patients with a sibling who can donate stem cells for the transplant. The cells are collected from the bloodstream through a simple outpatient process known as pheresis. Patients receive relatively low doses of chemotherapy, followed by the transplant of donor cells. The process requires a three-to-four week hospitalization, and participants in the study will be followed on an outpatient basis for three years.

Renal cell cancer accounts for approximately 3 percent of adult malignancies. It is more common in males than females and is rare in people under age 35. Cigarette smoking is the most definitive risk factor for the development of renal cell cancer, with approximately 25 to 30 percent of cases directly attributable to smoking.

For further information about this study, call the UCSD Blood and Marrow Transplant Program, 858-657-6840.

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*Details of this Phase I/II study were published in the Sept. 14, 2000, issue of the New England Journal of Medicine (Richard Childs, et al).

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Media Contact: Nancy Stringer
619-543-6163  nstringer@ucsd.edu