LONDON, 14 September (SPIS MedWire). Stem cell transplantation may offer hope to patients with advanced kidney cancer - usually considered an incurable illness. According to a report in today's New England Journal of Medicine, 19 patients with metastatic renal cell carcinoma, which had not responded to conventional therapy, received low-dose chemotherapy and immunosuppression followed by stem cell transplantation from a related donor. In seven patients there was shrinkage of metastases, and three showed complete disappearance of all secondary tumours.

The researchers noted that the benefits of the treatment were not immediate: even patients who eventually experienced success with the treatment had their tumours grow immediately after transplantation, when their immune systems were still weak. Regression of tumours did not occur until four months after cessation of immune-suppressing drugs, and the procedure was not risk-free, with two recipients dying from transplant-related causes. The authors conclude that, for the...

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