The research team has developed a safe method of stem cell transplantation without prior chemotherapy. It has already been tested in mice.

Stem cell transplantation is often used to treat blood cancer, but it is very risky. To solve the problem, researchers at the University of Washington in St. Louis have developed a safer procedure. The essence of the method is in a more accurate impact on the defective stem cells of the patient. This eliminates the need for radiation or chemotherapy.

Leukemia is a malignant systemic lesion of the red bone marrow, during which healthy leukocytes in the blood are replaced by altered cells. Abnormal leukocytes do not fulfill their function, but at the same time continue to actively divide, as a result of which their number increases. In the bone marrow, blood cells are produced by stem cells. There is one treatment option for patients with life-threatening illness, but it comes with a serious risk of side effects. We are talking about hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT).

To prepare their body for donor stem cells, the patient is first given radiation or chemotherapy, which kills their own stem cells, destroys the remaining cancer cells, and weakens the immune system to prevent rejection. In a new study, scientists have developed a technique that eliminates the need for such preparation for transplantation.

Instead, stem cells in the bone marrow are precisely targeted for destruction using special molecules called antibody-drug conjugate (ADC). They bind to specific proteins on the surface of blood stem cells. According to scientists, this prevents them from damaging other cells. Once they reach their goal, the ADC secrete saporin, which inactivates the ribosome protein, to kill stem cells.

After donor stem cell transplantation, immunosuppressants are still needed to prevent rejection. In a study in mice, the researchers used the drug baricitinib, which is used to treat rheumatoid arthritis.