The aim of this study was to extend allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation to leukemia patients without a matched donor. To prevent graft failure, large doses of T cell-depleted hematopoietic stem cells were transplanted following a highly myeloablative and immunosuppressive conditioning regimen. Fifteen children with high-risk acute leukemia received T cell-depleted hematopoietic stem cells from full-haplotype mismatched family members after a conditioning regimen that included single-dose TBI, thiotepa, ATG and fludarabine. To prevent GVHD, marrow cells were T-depleted by soybean agglutinin and E-rosetting, peripheral blood cells by E-rosetting followed by positive selection of the CD34+ cells. No post-transplant prophylaxis for GVHD was administered. In all patients full donor-type engraftment was achieved. None of the evaluable patients developed either acute or chronic GVHD. Regimen-related toxicity was minimal. Five patients are alive and event-free at a median follow-up of 18 months (range 13-28). All surviving patients have a good quality of life. Seven patients have relapsed. This study shows that GVHD and graft failure, which limited the use of full-haplotype mismatched bone marrow transplants, have been overcome. Since almost all children have a mismatched relative, advances in this area should make mismatched transplants a routine consideration for patients with high-risk leukemia without a matched related or unrelated donor.
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