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See detailThird-party mesenchymal stem cell infusion in kidney transplant recipient: 6-month safety interim analysis
WEEKERS, Laurent ULg; ERPICUM, Pauline ULg; DETRY, Olivier ULg et al

in American Journal of Transplantation (2015, May), 15(suppl 3),

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See detailInfusion of third-party mesenchymal stromal cells after liver transplantation: a phase 1, open-label, clinical study
DETRY, Olivier ULg; VANDERMEULEN, Morgan ULg; DELBOUILLE, Marie-Hélène ULg et al

Poster (2015, March 27)

Transplanted patients have to deal with numerous side effects of life-long dependence on immunosuppressive drugs. Paradoxically these drugs fail to prevent acute and/or chronic rejection in many cases ... [more ▼]

Transplanted patients have to deal with numerous side effects of life-long dependence on immunosuppressive drugs. Paradoxically these drugs fail to prevent acute and/or chronic rejection in many cases. Mesenchymal stromal cells (MSC) are multipotent and self-renewing bone marrow progenitors that have been shown both in vitro and in vivo as capable of (i) immunomodulation, (ii) anti-inflammation in case of ischemia/reperfusion injury, and (ii) stimulation of tissue repair. MSC could therefore be very interesting in organ recipients to limit chronic graft damage and to allow tolerance. This study aimed to be the first clinical evaluation of the safety and tolerability of MSC infusion after liver transplantation in a prospective, controlled, phase I study. Clinical grade MSCs were locally collected from the bone marrow of unrelated healthy donors. They were cultured in a GMP-compliant lab, underwent extensive quality controls and were frozen for storage in a MSC bank. When needed for patient treatment, MSC were thawed and intravenously injected into patients. 10 liver transplant recipients under standard immunosuppression (TAC-MMF-low dose steroids until day 30) received 1.5-3x106/kg MSC on post- operative day 3 ± 2. These patients were prospectively compared to a group of 10 control (MSC-) liver recipients. Primary endpoints were MSC infusion toxicity, and incidence of cancer and opportunistic infections at month 6. Secondary endpoints were patient and graft survivals and rejection at month 6, as well as the effects of MSC on recipients’ immune function and on immunohistology of at month 6 graft biopsies. No MSC infusional toxicity was observed. Both groups were comparable in terms of donor and recipient characteristics. There was no difference in primary end-points between control and MSC groups. No patient developed de novo cancer. There was no statistical difference in patient and graft survivals or in rejection rates. There was no graft rejection in the MSC group. Month-6 graft biopsies were not different according to Banff and fibrosis scores. This phase I study showed excellent tolerability and safety of a single infusion of third-party MSC after liver transplantation. There were no graft safety issues and no excess of immunosuppression after MSC injection. Further analyses of consequences of MSC injection on the immune profile are needed. The possibility of avoiding calcineurin-inhibitors with repeated MSC injections as main immunosuppressive therapy and/of tolerance induction by MSC infusion should be investigated by further studies. [less ▲]

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See detailImaging myeloma and related monoclonal plasma cell disorders using MRI, low dose whole-body CT and FDG PET/CT
WITHOFS, Nadia ULg; NANNI, C.; SIMONI, Paolo ULg et al

in Clinical and Translational Imaging (2015)

A majority of multiple myeloma patients present with osteolytic bone lesions that can cause bone pain, fractures or hypercalcaemia. Correct identification of these lesions is important in the initial ... [more ▼]

A majority of multiple myeloma patients present with osteolytic bone lesions that can cause bone pain, fractures or hypercalcaemia. Correct identification of these lesions is important in the initial assessment of the disease. <br />Although the radiological skeletal survey is the gold standard to detect bone osteolytic lesions, it may miss small bone lesions or lesions located in the spine or pelvis due to the superimposed images of soft tissues. These limitations propelled newer imaging techniques such as positron emission tomography combined with computed tomography (PET/CT) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) in the diagnosis of multiple myeloma. In addition, 18F-fluorodeoxyglucose PET/CT and MRI have prognostic value and can be used to monitor disease. <br />This review discusses the additional value of PET/CT and MRI in the management of MM. [less ▲]

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See detailInfusion of third-party mesenchymal stream cells after liver transplantation: a phase-1, open-label, clinical study
DETRY, Olivier ULg; VANDERMEULEN, Morgan ULg; DELBOUILLE, Marie-Hélène ULg et al

in Acta Gastro-Enterologica Belgica (2015, March), 78(1), 29

Background: Mesenchymal stromal cells (MSC) are multipotent bone marrow progenitors that have demonstrated significant immunosuppressive effects in various in vivo and in vitro studies. This study aimed ... [more ▼]

Background: Mesenchymal stromal cells (MSC) are multipotent bone marrow progenitors that have demonstrated significant immunosuppressive effects in various in vivo and in vitro studies. This study aimed to be the first evaluation of the safety and tolerability of MSC infusion after liver transplantation in a prospective, controlled phase-1 study. This study aimed to be the first evaluation of the safety and tolerability of MSC infusion after liver transplantation in a prospective, controlled phase-1 study. Patients & Methods: Clinical grade MSCs were locally collected from the bone marrow of unrelated healthy donors. They were cultured in a GMP-compliant lab, underwent extensive quality controls and were frozen for storage in a MSC bank. When needed for patient treatment, MSC were thawed and intravenously injected into patients. 10 liver transplant recipients under standard immunosuppression (TAC-MMF-low dose steroids until day 30) received 1.5-3x106/kg MSC on post-operative day 3±2. These patients were prospectively compared to a group of 10 control (MSC-) liver recipients. Primary endpoints were MSC infusion toxicity, and incidence of cancer and opportunistic infections at month 6. Secondary endpoints were patient and graft survivals and rejection at month 6, as well as the effects of MSC on recipients’ immune function and on immunohistology of at month 6 graft biopsies. Results: No MSC infusional toxicity was observed. Both groups were comparable in terms of donor and recipient characteristics. There was no difference in primary end-points between control and MSC groups. No patient developed de novo cancer. There was no statistical difference in patient and graft survivals or in rejection rates. There was no graft rejection in the MSC group. Month-6 graft biopsies were not different according to Banff and fibrosis scores. Discussion: This phase 1 study showed excellent tolerability and safety of a single infusion of third-party MSC after liver transplantation. There were no graft safety issues and no excess of immunosuppression after MSC injection. Further analyses of consequences of MSC injection on the immune profile are needed. The possibility of avoiding calcineurin-inhibitors with repeated MSC injections as main immunosuppressive therapy and/of tolerance induction by MSC infusion should be investigated by further studies. [less ▲]

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See detailAzacytidine prevents experimental sclerodermic chronic graft-versus-host disease
Fransolet, Gilles ULg; Ehx, Grégory ULg; SOMJA, Joan ULg et al

Poster (2015, January 30)

Introduction: Graft-versus-host disease (GVHD) remains one major complication of allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT). Following unmanipulated peripheral-blood stem cell ... [more ▼]

Introduction: Graft-versus-host disease (GVHD) remains one major complication of allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT). Following unmanipulated peripheral-blood stem cell transplantation, 60% of the patients experience chronic GVHD while approximately 15% of them develop a sclerodermic form of chronic GVHD characterized by multiple organ fibrosis and loss of skin elasticity. Regulatory T cells (Tregs) play a pivotal role in the pathology of chronic GVHD by inhibiting alloreactive conventional T cells. Several studies have shown the hypomethylating agent Azacytidine (Aza) can demethylate the master transcription factor of Treg (Forkhead box protein 3 factor, FoxP3), thus promoting Treg differentiation of conventional T cells. This work investigates the impact of Aza in a classical murine model of sclerodermic chronic GVHD (B10.D2  BALB/cJ). Methods: Lethally irradiated BALB/cJ recipient mice were injected with 107 bone marrow cells + 7.107splenocytes from B10.D2 donor mice. Recipients were treated with subcutaneous injections of Aza at the dose of 0,5 or 2 mg/kg every two days from day 10 to 30 following transplantation. Mice GVHD was evaluated with five criteria (weight loss, activity, fibrosis, hair loss and mice posture; 0-1-2 points/criteria). Mice were sacrificed at a score of 8/10 (or > 20% weight loss). Results: Mice treated with Aza 0.5 mg/kg (n = 14) or 2 mg/kg (n = 17) had significant lower clinical scores compared to control ones (n = 15) after treatment. FACS analysis showed a higher proportion of Treg among CD4+ T cells in the blood of Aza 2 mg/kg mice than in control mice (P = 0.047), as well as a higher percentage of Tregs expressing the KI67 proliferative marker on the same day (P = 0.0005). Finally, analyses of the cellular blood components with Cell-dyn demonstrated that Aza 2 mg/kg treated mice were significantly lymphopenic as compared to control mice (P = 0.05). Conclusion : Aza prevented sclerodermic GVHD in this classical murine model of chronic GVHD. [less ▲]

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See detailCircadian and circannual variations in cord blood hematopoietic cell composition
Servais, Sophie ULg; BAUDOUX, Etienne ULg; Brichard, B. et al

in Haematologica (2015), 100(1), 32-34

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See detailBHS guidelines for the treatment of Burkitt lymphoma
BONNET, Christophe ULg; Janssens, A.; Wu, KL. et al

in Belgian Journal of Hematology (2015), 6(2), 61-69

Burkitt lymphoma (BL) is a rare but very aggressive non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma characterized by an isolated translocation t(8;14)(q24;q32). The sporadic form is the subentity most frequently encountered in ... [more ▼]

Burkitt lymphoma (BL) is a rare but very aggressive non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma characterized by an isolated translocation t(8;14)(q24;q32). The sporadic form is the subentity most frequently encountered in our country. Diagnosis and initial work-up must be completed rapidly to start treatment as soon as possible. Positron emission tomography (PET) scan is useful for initial staging and to evaluate the chemosensitivity of the tumor during and after treatment. After debulking, it is recommended to add rituximab to chemotherapy. Currently intensive short-cycle chemotherapies (ISCC) and low intensity chemotherapies (LIC) are two valuable options. Radiotherapy is not indicated except in case of central nervous system involvement. Patients achieving complete remission must be followed carefully during the first year to detect recurrence of the disease. More than 80% of patients sustain their remission one year following initial treatment and are considered cured. For patients in partial remission or with chemosensitive relapse, autologous stem cell transplantation is recommended following re-induction with non-cross-resistant polychemotherapy. Monitoring complete blood counts and cognitive functions is important to detect late toxicity of the applied therapies. [less ▲]

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See detailPrise en charge actuelle du lymphome de la zone marginale
Bonnet, Christophe ULg; LEJEUNE, Marie ULg; VAN KEMSEKE, Catherine ULg et al

in Revue Médicale Suisse (2015)

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See detailImpact of graft source and composition on outcomes after allogeneic stem cell transplantation
SERVAIS, Sophie ULg; Baron, Frédéric ULg; BEGUIN, Yves ULg

in Belgian Journal of Hematology (2015), 6(4), 162-168

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See detailImpact of Pre-Transplant Anti-T Cell Globulin (ATG) on Immune Recovery after Myeloablative Allogeneic Peripheral Blood Stem Cell Transplantation.
SERVAIS, Sophie ULg; Menten-Dedoyart, Catherine; Beguin, Yves ULg et al

in PloS one (2015), 10(6), 0130026

BACKGROUND: Pre-transplant infusion of rabbit anti-T cell globulin (ATG) is increasingly used as prevention of graft-versus-host disease (GVHD) after allogeneic peripheral blood stem cell transplantation ... [more ▼]

BACKGROUND: Pre-transplant infusion of rabbit anti-T cell globulin (ATG) is increasingly used as prevention of graft-versus-host disease (GVHD) after allogeneic peripheral blood stem cell transplantation (PBSCT). However, the precise impact of pre-transplant ATG on immune recovery after PBSCT is still poorly documented. METHODS: In the current study, we compared immune recovery after myeloablative PBSCT in 65 patients who either received (n = 37) or did not (n = 28) pre-transplant ATG-Fresenius (ATG-F). Detailed phenotypes of circulating T, B, natural killer (NK) and invariant NKT (iNKT) cells were analyzed by multicolor flow cytometry at serial time-points from day 40 to day 365 after transplantation. Thymic function was also assessed by sjTREC quantification. Serious infectious events were collected up to 2 years post-transplantation. RESULTS: Pre-transplant ATG-F had a prolonged (for at least up to 1-year) and selective negative impact on the T-cell pool, while it did not impair the recovery of B, NK nor iNKT cells. Among T cells, ATG-F selectively compromised the recovery of naive CD4+, central memory CD4+ and naive CD8+ cells, while it spared effector memory T and regulatory T cells. Levels of sjTRECs were similar in both cohorts at 1-year after PBSCT, suggesting that ATG-F unlikely impaired thymopoiesis at long-term after PBSCT. Finally, the incidence and rate of serious infections were similar in both groups, while ATG-F patients had a lower incidence of grade II-IV acute graft-versus-host disease. CONCLUSIONS: Pre-transplant ATG-F induces long-lasting modulation of the circulating T-cell pool after myeloablative PBSCT, that may participate in preventing graft-versus-host disease without deeply compromising anti-pathogen defenses. [less ▲]

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See detailMesenchymal Stromal Cell Therapy in Ischemia/Reperfusion Injury.
Rowart, Pascal ULg; Erpicum, Pauline; Detry, Olivier et al

in Journal of immunology research (2015), 2015

Ischemia/reperfusion injury (IRI) represents a worldwide public health issue of increasing incidence. IRI may virtually affect all organs and tissues and is associated with significant morbidity and ... [more ▼]

Ischemia/reperfusion injury (IRI) represents a worldwide public health issue of increasing incidence. IRI may virtually affect all organs and tissues and is associated with significant morbidity and mortality. Particularly, the duration of blood supply deprivation has been recognized as a critical factor in stroke, hemorrhagic shock, or myocardial infarction, as well as in solid organ transplantation (SOT). Pathophysiologically, IRI causes multiple cellular and tissular metabolic and architectural changes. Furthermore, the reperfusion of ischemic tissues induces both local and systemic inflammation. In the particular field of SOT, IRI is an unavoidable event, which conditions both short- and long-term outcomes of graft function and survival. Clinically, the treatment of patients with IRI mostly relies on supportive maneuvers since no specific target-oriented therapy has been validated thus far. In the present review, we summarize the current literature on mesenchymal stromal cells (MSC) and their potential use as cell therapy in IRI. MSC have demonstrated immunomodulatory, anti-inflammatory, and tissue repair properties in rodent studies and in preliminary clinical trials, which may open novel avenues in the management of IRI and SOT. [less ▲]

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See detailNon-myeloablative allogeneic hematopoietic cell transplantation following fludarabine plus 2 Gy TBI or ATG plus 8 Gy TLI: a phase II randomized study from the Belgian Hematological Society
Baron, Frédéric ULg; Zachée, Pierre; Maertens, Johan et al

in Journal of Hematology & Oncology (2015), 8(4), 10118613045-014-0098-9

Background: Few studies thus far have compared head-to-head different non-myelooablative conditioning regimens for allogeneic hematopoietic cell transplantation (allo-HCT). Methods: Here, we report the ... [more ▼]

Background: Few studies thus far have compared head-to-head different non-myelooablative conditioning regimens for allogeneic hematopoietic cell transplantation (allo-HCT). Methods: Here, we report the results of a phase II multicenter randomized study comparing non-myeloablative allo-HCT from HLA-identical siblings (n = 54) or from 10/10 HLA-matched unrelated donors (n = 40) with either fludarabine plus 2 Gy total body irradiation (Flu-TBI arm; n = 49) or 8 Gy TLI + anti-thymocyte globulin (TLI-ATG arm; n = 45) conditioning. Results: The 180-day cumulative incidences of grade II-IV acute GVHD (primary endpoint) were 12.2% versus 8.9% in Flu-TBI and TLI-ATG patients, respectively (P = 0.5). Two-year cumulative incidences of moderate/severe chronic GVHD were 40.8% versus 17.8% in Flu-TBI and TLI-ATG patients, respectively (P = 0.017). Five Flu-TBI patients and 10 TLI-ATG patients received pre-emptive DLI for low donor chimerism levels, while 1 Flu-TBI patient and 5 TLI-ATG patients (including 2 patients given prior pre-emptive DLIs) received a second HCT for poor graft function, graft rejection, or disease progression. Four-year cumulative incidences of relapse/progression were 22% and 50% in Flu-TBI and TLI-ATG patients, respectively (P = 0.017). Four-year cumulative incidences of nonrelapse mortality were 24% and 13% in Flu-TBI and TLI-ATG patients, respectively (P = 0.5). Finally, 4-year overall (OS) and progression-free survivals (PFS) were 53% and 54%, respectively, in the Flu-TBI arm, versus 54% (P = 0.9) and 37% (P = 0.12), respectively, in the TLI-ATG arm. Conclusions: In comparison to patients included in the Flu-TBI arm, patients included in the TLI-ATG arm had lower incidence of chronic GVHD, higher incidence of relapse and similar OS. [less ▲]

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See detailRituximab therapy for hairy cell leukemia : a retrospective study of 41 cases
Leclerc, Mathieu; Suarez, Felipe; Noël, Marie-Pierre et al

in Annals of Hematology (2015), 94

The purine analogs (PAs) cladribine and pentostatin have transformed the prognosis of hairy cell leukemia (HCL). However, some patients still relapse after PAs, or fail to reach an optimal response, and ... [more ▼]

The purine analogs (PAs) cladribine and pentostatin have transformed the prognosis of hairy cell leukemia (HCL). However, some patients still relapse after PAs, or fail to reach an optimal response, and new agents are needed to further improve treatment outcome. We retrospectively studied 41 HCL patients from 10 centers in France and Belgium, who received 49 treatment courses with the anti-CD20 monoclonal antibody rituximab. Most of the patients were treated at relapse (84 % of cases) and rituximab was combined to a PA in 41 % of cases. Overall, response rate is 90 % including 71 % complete hematologic responses (CHRs). Frontline treatment, combination therapy, and absolute neutrophil count were associated with response in multivariate analysis. Three-year relapse-free and overall survivals are 68 and 90 %, respectively. When combined to a PA, rituximab yields a 100 % response rate, even beyond frontline therapy. In contrast, response rate is only 82 % (59 % CHR) when rituximab is used alone. In this latter setting, relapse rate is 56 % and median time to relapse is 17.5 months. All eight patients who were treated two times with the antibody responded again to retreatment. We confirm the high efficacy of the combination rituximab + PA. However, when rituximab is used as monotherapy, response rate is lower and the high relapse rate is a concern. Prospective clinical trials are needed to confirm the superiority of the combination rituximab + PA over PA alone, both as frontline therapy and at relapse. [less ▲]

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See detailSafety and efficacy of azacitidine in Belgian patients with high-risk myelodysplastic syndromes, acute myeloid leukaemia, or chronic myelomonocytic leukaemia: results of a real-life, non-interventional post-marketing survey
Beguin, Yves ULg; Selleslag, Dominik; Meers, Stef et al

in Acta Clinica Belgica (2015), 70

Objectives: We evaluated azacitidine (VidazaH) safety and efficacy in patients with myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS), acute myeloid leukaemia (AML), and chronic myelomonocytic leukaemia (CMML), in a real ... [more ▼]

Objectives: We evaluated azacitidine (VidazaH) safety and efficacy in patients with myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS), acute myeloid leukaemia (AML), and chronic myelomonocytic leukaemia (CMML), in a real-life setting. Treatment response, dose, and schedule were assessed. Methods: This non-interventional, post-marketing survey included 49/50 patients receiving azacitidine at 14 Belgian haematology centres from 2010–2012. Treatment-emergent adverse events (TEAEs), including treatment-related TEAEs, and serious TEAEs (TESAEs) were recorded throughout the study. Treatment response [complete response (CR), partial response (PR), haematological improvement (HI), stable disease (SD), treatment failure (TF)) and transfusion-independence (TI) were evaluated at completion of a 1-year observation period (1YOP) or at treatment discontinuation, and overall survival (OS), at study conclusion. Results: The median age of patients was 74.7 (range: 43.9–87.8) years; 69.4% had MDS, 26.5% had primary or secondary AML, and 4.1% had CMML. Treatment-related TEAEs, grade 3–4 TEAEs, and TESAEs were reported in 67.3%, 28.6%, and 18.4% of patients, respectively. During 1YOP, patients received a median of 7 (1–12) treatment cycles. Treatment response was assessed for 38/49 patients. Among MDS and CMML patients (n529), 41.4% had CR, PR, or HI, 41.4% had SD, and 17.2% had TF. Among AML patients (n59), 44.4% had CR or PR, 33.3% had SD, and 22.2% had TF. TI was observed in 14/32 (43.8%) patients who were transfusion-dependent at baseline. Median (95% confidence interval) OS was 490 (326–555) days; 1-year OS estimate was 0.571 (0.422–0.696). Conclusions: Our data support previous findings that azacitidine has a clinically acceptable safety profile and shows efficacy. [less ▲]

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