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ACS News Service Weekly PressPac: April 21, 2021

Toward safer stem cell transplants 

“Making Stem Cell Transplants Safer”
Chemical & Engineering News

For cancer patients, the use of hematopoietic stem cell transplants can be a game changer in terms of treatment and recovery. However, most people need to undergo a combination of chemotherapy and radiation before transplants become an option. A new article in Chemical & Engineering News, the weekly newsmagazine of the American Chemical Society, sheds light on progress toward making stem cell transplants safer and more effective.

Chemotherapy and radiation are used as a prelude to stem cell transplants in a process known as conditioning, writes Associate Editor Ryan Cross. This allows doctors to clear out diseased cells in the body and make room for healthy ones, but conditioning can be very harsh; it also kills healthy cells and can cause significant side effects, making recovery that much harder. Therefore, stem cell transplants are often under-used. Researchers and drug companies are now working to develop new targeted conditioning therapies with fewer side effects, which would allow more patients to safely undergo stem cell treatments. 

The most promising approaches include using antibodies to target specific proteins on hematopoietic stem cells in a patient’s body and kill those cells. The goal is to make room for new stem cells from the transplant and to avoid the collateral damage that chemotherapy and radiation cause to other cells. Experts believe this targeted conditioning will result in fewer side effects and could be applied to patients with cancer, genetic diseases and autoimmune disorders that want to receive stem cell transplants. Although there is reason for optimism on the basis of early findings, scientists caution that this new method may not fully solve the issues of side effects and immune rejection, and it may not be suitable for all types of cancers. In the meantime, work continues on advancing stem cell therapies, with the goals of better outcomes and fewer complications.

The American Chemical Society (ACS) is a nonprofit organization chartered by the U.S. Congress. ACS’ mission is to advance the broader chemistry enterprise and its practitioners for the benefit of Earth and all its people. The Society is a global leader in promoting excellence in science education and providing access to chemistry-related information and research through its multiple research solutions, peer-reviewed journals, scientific conferences, eBooks and weekly news periodical Chemical & Engineering News. ACS journals are among the most cited, most trusted and most read within the scientific literature; however, ACS itself does not conduct chemical research. As a leader in scientific information solutions, its CAS division partners with global innovators to accelerate breakthroughs by curating, connecting and analyzing the world’s scientific knowledge. ACS’ main offices are in Washington, D.C., and Columbus, Ohio.

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