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A drug developed to fight HIV has been found to mobilise stem cells from healthy bone marrow donors much quicker than the current standard method.
By using plerixafor, researchers found that in two-thirds of cases they were able to mobilise enough cells for transplantation after only one day. Donors who receive the standard granular colony-stimulating factor (G-CSF) need up to five days before collection can be initiated.
Thousands of donors are needed every year to provide stem cells for patients with leukaemia, other haematological malignancies and a number of rare genetic disorders.
Plerixafor is a direct antagonist of the interaction between the chemokine stromal-derived factor 1 (SDF-1/CXL 12) and its receptor (CXCR4) – which is essential to mobilise stem cells from bone marrow to the bloodstream so they can be collected for transplantation.
Treatment with G-CSF has also been associated with side effects including bone pain and occasionally chest pain.
According to Steven M Devine, from Ohio’s Comprehensive Cancer Hospital, who led the research: “Clearly a treatment that can reduce time to collection and also reduce risks associated with the use of G-CSF would represent a major advance for both donors and the patients who need blood stem cell transplants in the years ahead.”
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