In the case of leukemia, research currently under way includes studies assessing the effectiveness of treatments such as new biological therapies, new anticancer drugs, and stem cell transplantation. People with leukemia who participate in such research may have the opportunity to be among the first to benefit from new treatments. Although clinical trials may pose some risks, researchers take careful steps to protect their patients.
Doctors all over the country are conducting many types of leukemia research studies in which people take part voluntarily. This research has already led to advances, and scientists are continuing to search for new methods of treatment and supportive care for people with leukemia.
Scientists conducting research on leukemia are testing:
- New biological therapies
- New anticancer drugs, doses, and treatment schedules
- Various drugs
- Combinations of drugs, biological therapy, radiation therapy, and stem cell transplantation.
New types of treatment are being tested in leukemia research, including chemotherapy with stem cell transplant. This is a method of administering chemotherapy and replacing blood-forming cells destroyed by the leukemia treatment. In this treatment, stem cells (immature blood cells) are removed from the blood or bone marrow of the patient or a donor and are frozen and stored.
After the chemotherapy treatment is completed, the stored stem cells are thawed and given back to the patient through an infusion. These reinfused stem cells grow into (and restore) the body's blood cells.