Children with leukaemia are more likely to survive if their chemotherapy is topped up with an injection of blood stem cells.

Paediatricians at the University of Milano-Bicocca, Italy, identified 357 children and teenagers with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia, a cancer in which too many white blood cells form and tumours develop in the chest.

Matching donors were found for 77 of the children, and aggressive chemotherapy was used to kill off all these children’s white blood cells, including the cancer cells. The children were then injected with blood stem cells from donors’ bone marrow.

The other children were treated with normal, lower doses of chemotherapy, forcing the disease into remission.

Five years on, 50 per cent of the normal-chemotherapy group and 56 per cent of the blood stem cell group were still alive.

Source: New Scientist []