Study Shows Stem Cell Transplants Feasible for HIV Positive Lymphoma Patients

A new study demonstrates that autologous stem cell transplants are feasible for patients with HIV-associated lymphoma, provided they meet standard eligibility criteria.

Such transplants have generally not been considered for patients who are HIV positive with lymphoma because of their compromised immune systems. However, this study could change that.

Led by Joseph Alvarnas, M.D., director of Medical Quality and Quality, Risk and Regulatory Management and a physician investigator at the Hematologic Malignancies and Stem Cell Transplantation Institute at City of Hope, and colleagues at Johns Hopkins Hospital, the study builds on previous research at City of Hope, a leader in this field.

"My colleagues at City of Hope have been true pioneers in this field of study," said Alvarnas. "This broader trial shows that not only can these transplants be done in HIV patients, but that it is a viable therapy for HIV-associated lymphoma. Ultimately, these results argue persuasively that HIV or AIDS status should not be a barrier to autologous stem cell transplant for patients who meet standard eligibility criteria."

The team found that transplants were effective, tolerable and not excessively toxic for patients diagnosed with HIV-associated lymphomas.

Patients in the clinical trial received autologous stem cell transplants with a high-dose preparative regimen of chemotherapy, and achieved survival rates comparable to other lymphoma patients.

After a median two-year follow-up, the one-year survival rate among the 40 HIV-associated lymphoma patients who had the transplant was an impressive 86.6 percent.

The trial also estimated a one-year progression-free survival rate of 82.3 percent – remarkable as all of these patients had lymphoma that did not respond to prior therapy.

HIV-positive people are 70 times more likely to be diagnosed with lymphoma than uninfected individuals. As antiretroviral therapies have improved, HIV patients with lymphoma have had access to medications and other therapies offered to lymphoma patients not infected with HIV. Because they are immunocompromised, they have been considered ineligible for autologous stem cell transplants. This has put HIV lymphoma patients at a disadvantage.

"What makes the current clinical trial so useful is we offered something previously done only in centers with very specific expertise and showed it could be extended to multiple centers – even those that did not specialize in HIV," Alvarnas said.

This data is scheduled to be presented during a press session at the American Society of Hematology (ASH) meeting December 8 at 8 a.m.

Source: Business Wire

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