Many of us have gone through autologous stem cell transplant(s) as part of our myeloma treatment program. About 90 % of us have to go through a multi-day apheresis program in order to collect enough stem cells needed for treatment. In addition, we had/have to inject ourselves with the drug Neupogen (filgrastim) for a number of days prior to stem cell harvest to help us mobilize our stem cells.
The process is not painful but ranks in the ‘boring category’ laying in a hospital bed with a couple of tubes attached to you. And you end up killing a couple of days reading, napping, etc., while the machine next to you sorts out CD34+ cells from your blood. CD34 gets its name from the ‘cluster of differentiation’ (CD) that identifies cell surface antigens. “CD34 is a marker of human hematopoietic stem cells, and all colony-forming activity of human bone marrow (BM) cells is found in the CD34+ fraction.” Important to remember here is that the cells with the CD34+ marker (cell surface protein) are what we are looking for when talking about stem cells for transplant.
Interesting results were reported a few days ago by the company BiolineRx that has just completed a Phase III study comparing the stem cell harvests of myeloma patients from two different regimens:
The results can be summarized as follows :
All in all, this is exciting news for those who will undergo stem cell collection and transplant in the not-too-distant future. The company has indicated that they expect to file a New Drug Application (NDA) with the US Food and Drug Administration in the first half of 2022 and I would expect approval potentially as early as year-end 2022.
about the author
I am a patient diagnosed in 2014 with primary plasma cell leukemia (pPCL), a rare and aggressive variant of multiple myeloma and have been very fortunate to find successful treatment at the division of Cellular Therapy at the Duke University Cancer Institute. My wife, Vicki, and I have two adult children and two grandsons who are the ‘lights of our lives’. Successful treatment has allowed Vicki and I to do what we love best : traveling the world, albeit it with some extra precautions to keep infections away. My career in the pharmaceutical industry has given me insights that I am currently putting to use as an advocate to lower drug pricing, especially prices for anti-cancer drugs. I am a firm believer that staying mentally active, physically fit, compliant to our treatment regimen and taking an active interest in our disease are keys to successful treatment outcomes.