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Grant to allow research into treating cancer with stem cells

Oct. 6, 2009

Medical College of Wisconsin researchers are looking into the possibilities of treating a childhood cancer using stem cells from a patient's own blood using a $1.5 million grant renewal from the National Institutes of Health's National Cancer Institute.

Neuroblastoma forms in nerve tissue, usually in the adrenal glands and often spreads to the lymph nodes, bones, bone marrow, liver and skin. It is typically diagnosed in early childhood, according to a news release from the Medical College.

Although most neuroblastoma patients have an excellent chance of survival, rates for patients with the most aggressive form of the disease are typically less than 50 percent. Researchers trying a new treatment approach that activates the immune system to effectively eliminate the cancer. This approach involves stem cell transplantation using a patient's own blood, while manipulating the transplanted white blood cells. It also incorporates tumor vaccination, accomplished by reprogramming the cancer cells to stimulate the body's immune system to attack the tumor.

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