Tandem Stem Cell Transplants
Stem cell research is ongoing and advances in stem cell transplants are continuously undergoing clinical trials in order to better understand the benefits of stem cells. One such stem cell transplant procedure is the autologous tandem stem cell transplant, which is currently under trial. Researchers primarily believe that tandem stem cell transplants could potentially prevent cancer remission in patients who undergo this type of stem cell transplant procedure.
What is a Tandem Transplant?
A tandem transplant is a type of autologous stem cell transplant, meaning that the source of stem cells donation comes from the patient herself. A tandem transplant is also referred to as a "double autologous transplant." This is because a tandem transplant requires the patient to undergo two autologous stem cell transplants that are typically accompanied by high dose chemotherapy within a six-month period.
The Tandem Procedure
In a tandem stem cell transplant, stem cells are collected prior to the initial procedure; this collection is then divided in half, and administered in each of the two transplants. The second autologous transplant is performed once the patient has recovered from the first stem cell transplant.
Several studies have suggested that response and survival rates are higher in patients who have undergone this more intensive form of treatment. However, further research must be conducted in order to determine which patients benefit most from this demanding transplant regimen, and strategies are being developed in order to improve this type of stem cell transplant.
Treatable Diseases and Tandem Transplants
In clinical trials, tandem stem cell transplants have most predominantly been studied in patients with certain types of cancers such as multiple myeloma and germ cell (reproductive cell) cancers. Currently, tandem transplants being evaluated for treatment of the following diseases:
- metastatic breast cancer
- Hodgkin’s disease
- Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma
In some tandem transplant trials, the first autologous transplant will be followed by a reduced intensity conditioning regimen and an allogeneic stem cell transplant using a matched sibling donor.
However, other transplant procedures may employ a total therapy program that is a much more intensified procedure which may involve higher doses of chemotherapy drugs.
One of the earliest published studies assessing the effectiveness of tandem transplants found the response rates in patients with myeloma to increase from 24% after the first transplant to 43% following the second transplant. Further studies have yielded similar results; however, more research in the area must be conducted in order to gain specific information about transplant strategies and types of treatable diseases for particular patients. For instance, one study found that success rates for patients with myeloma was higher when an autologous transplant was followed by a mini-allogeneic transplant, with an overall survival rate of 83%.