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Bone Marrow drive Dec. 1 for Pax engineering tech

November 18, 2004 - A bone marrow drive will be held Dec. 1 in Building 2109 for a Pax River engineering technician who was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia in early July.

Adult acute myeloid leukemia (AML) is a type of cancer in which the bone marrow makes abnormal myeloblasts (a type of white blood cell), red blood cells, or platelets.

This type of cancer usually gets worse quickly if it is not treated. It is the most common type of acute leukemia in adults.

Kathy S. Johnson, who has worked at Pax for 14 years, has received her chemotherapy induction treatment and two consolidation treatments that has put her leukemia into complete remission.

Because AML tends to reoccur quite easily a relapse is highly likely. A bone marrow transplant will reduce the probability of a relapse.

Once a match is made, Johnson will be treated at the University of Maryland Greenebaum Cancer Center in Baltimore. The Greenebaum Cancer Center uses the peripheral blood stem cell donation method as an alternative to getting bone marrow directly from the bone. This method is far less invasive to the donor and can be done within a few hours allowing the donor to return home.

Getting tested during a bone marrow drive is simple for the donor and could be very beneficial for the recipient if a match is made. The donor fills out a health questionnaire and signs a form consenting to have his or her tissue type listed on the National Marrow Donor Program Registry.

The donor provides a sample of blood so a tissue match between the donor and recipient can be performed. If the donor is identified as a potential match for a patient, a donor program registry representative will ask for another blood sample to see whether the blood matches well enough.

To prepare for the donation procedure, the donor attends an information session about the donation process and potential side effects of the procedure. The donor will have to submit to a physical examination to determine health status and to discover if there are any special risks to them with the procedure.

For the peripheral blood stem cell procedure, the donor will receive a drug for four or five consecutive days. This drug will increase the number of stem cells released from the marrow into the blood stream. To collect the stem cells from the donor, a procedure is done at the hospital where the donor's blood is removed through a sterile needle placed in a vein in one arm and passed through a machine that separates out the stem cells.

The remaining blood, minus the stem cells, is returned to the donor through a sterile needle in the donor's other arm.

The drive is sponsored by the DoD Marrow Donor Program in Rockville. For more information, call 301-342-3933.

Flower Power Fights Leukemia

Christine Webb (03/01/05) -- Researchers at the University of Rochester have found a compound in a popular flower that may help cancer patients.

You may enjoy feverfew or bachelor's buttons in your garden. Doctors Craig Jordan and Monica Guzman at the U of R have found a compound in these two plants that can kill leukemia cells like no other single therapy.

The doctors compare it to pulling weeds from your garden. If you don't get the roots, the weeds grow back.

Dr. Jordan said that's exactly what can happen if you have cancer. Sometimes certain drugs or therapy just don't work. So researchers are trying to create a drug with this compound parthenolide, found in certain plants, that can kill leukemia at the root.

Dr. Jordan said, "I think one reason we're excited about it is this is a different type of cancer therapy that will be less toxic than say, chemotherapy.....which sometimes has very strong side effects."

Jordan pointed out that no one should simply buy the plants and eat them because that could be dangerous.

The hope for the research is to develop the compound into a drug that could be used not only to treat leukemia but a variety of cancers.

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