UAMS Marks Record Number of Stem-Cell Transplants In 2004

By todd

LITTLE ROCK – More than 630 patients received stem-cell transplants at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) in 2004, more than any other facility in the nation and a record for an institution that has performed more of the procedures on cancer patients than any other facility in the world.


The Myeloma Institute for Research and Therapy (MIRT), a part of the Arkansas Cancer Research Center (ACRC) at UAMS, performed 633 transplants of blood stem cells, collected either from the patient or a compatible donor, following high-dose chemotherapy treatments to promote recovery from the chemotherapy. The procedure has led to higher survival and remission rates for those patients.


“Treating a record number of patients is a significant achievement for the transplant program as each case further expands our knowledge of how best to treat our patients and brings us closer to one day developing a cure,” said Bart Barlogie, M.D., Ph.D., MIRT director and a professor of medicine and pathology in the UAMS College of Medicine. “This accomplishment is also a tribute to the commitment of my colleagues and staff in patient care as well as research.”


For 2004, there were 622 autologous stem-cell transplants to myeloma patients at the institute, where the peripheral blood stem cells were collected from the patient prior to undergoing high-dose chemotherapy. There were also 11 allogeneic stem-cell transplants for patients with myeloma, leukemia or other cancers where the stem cells are collected from the family member of the patient or another compatible donor.


In June 2004, the institute reached another landmark with its 5,000th stem-cell transplant, performing more of the procedures for the treatment of myeloma than any other facility in the world. The first stem-cell transplant to treat myeloma at UAMS was conducted in 1989.


Under the direction of stem cell lab director Michele Fox, M.D., UAMS has developed the largest bank of stem cells in the world.


The average survival rate of a myeloma patient used to be two to three years upon diagnosis. Today, the institute has extended the median survival rate of its patients to seven years and beyond.


Total remission rates for patients at the institute over the last 10 years have improved from less than 5 percent for those receiving standard chemotherapy to more than 50 percent for patients undergoing both chemotherapy and stem-cell transplants.


The myeloma institute averages about 50 new patients per month and continues to grow. Patients from all 50 states and 34 foreign countries have been treated by the institute.


Myeloma is a type of cancer that involves plasma cells – white blood cells that produce antibodies. When plasma cells become cancerous, they reproduce uncontrollably and crowd out healthy red and white blood cells, preventing them from fighting infection and carrying oxygen throughout the body as they should. The malignant cells also produce a type of protein that can cause kidney failure.


UAMS is the state’s only comprehensive academic health center, with five colleges, a graduate school, a medical center, five centers of excellence and a statewide network of regional centers. UAMS has more than 2,200 students and 660 residents and is the state’s largest public employer with almost 9,000 employees. UAMS and its affiliates have an economic impact in Arkansas of $4.1 billion a year.


UAMS centers of excellence are the Arkansas Cancer Research Center, Harvey and Bernice Jones Eye Institute, Donald W. Reynolds Institute on Aging, Myeloma Institute for Research and Therapy and Jackson T. Stephens Spine and Neurosciences Institute.