MCI Koehne 2023 Blood Cancers HERO


Stem Cell Research May Revolutionize Blood Cancer Treatment

Baptist Health Miami Cancer Institute

New stem cell transplantation research conducted by physicians at Baptist Health Miami Cancer Institute is showing promise in the fight against relapse, a leading cause of death in patients with blood cancers including leukemia, lymphoma and myeloma.


At the European Hematology Association 2023 meeting recently, Guenther Koehne, M.D., Ph.D., deputy director and chief of Blood & Marrow Transplantation and Hematologic Oncology at Miami Cancer Institute, presented initial results from a first-in-human study in patients with acute myeloid leukemia (AML).


Guenther Koehne, M.D., Ph.D., deputy director and chief of Blood & Marrow Transplantation and Hematologic Oncology at Baptist Health Miami Cancer Institute


“Patients with very complex disease who have relapsed, typically have poor outcomes,” Dr. Koehne says. “We are very excited that this new innovative approach appears promising.” The early results of the study, VBP101 (NCT04849910), included a small number of AML patients. While initial results are bringing hope to patients and the healthcare team alike, more studies need to be done, Dr. Koehne says.


September is Blood Cancer Awareness Month

More than 184,000 people in the U.S. are expected to be diagnosed in 2023 with leukemia, lymphoma or myeloma, according to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. Of those, some 20,000 people will be told they have AML. Stem cell transplantation has become the standard of care for many blood cancers, particularly when patients have relapsed or had a recurrence of the disease.


A pioneer in stem cell transplantation, Dr. Koehne developed a technique to manipulate donor cells to reduce the risk of graft-versus-host disease, a life-threatening complication of transplantation. His work has not only improved outcomes but has also made it possible for more patients, particularly elderly patients who previously would not have been considered for transplantation, to receive the treatment.


“The manipulation of the cells is very innovative and can only be performed at institutions that have sophisticated labs such as ours,” Dr. Koehne explains. The current study is still open for enrollment, he adds.


A promising future

Over the past few decades, the landscape of blood cancer treatment has undergone a remarkable transformation. There is now a deeper understanding of the molecular and genetic basis of blood cancers, developments in immunotherapy and targeted therapies, and new, innovative lab techniques. The advances are responsible for improved patient outcomes, reduced toxicities, fewer side effects and a better quality of life for those facing these complex and challenging cancer diagnoses.


Cancer researchers are studying new methods of tackling some of the biggest obstacles in the care of patients who undergo stem cell transplantation. They include:


·      Reducing pre-transplantation toxicities that can occur during conditioning regimens such as chemotherapy and radiation therapy.

·      Using antimicrobial prophylaxis and close monitoring to lower the risk of infectious complications.

·      Lessening the chance of a life-threatening complication due to graft-vs-host disease.

·      Quickly treating signs of relapse.


Among the studies Dr. Koehne is leading are a new induction regimen for patients with FLT3+ AM (A Pilot Study of Daunorubicin-cytarabine liposome (CPX-351) Plus FLT3-inhibitor (Midostaurin) as Induction Therapy for Patients with FLT3 Mutated Acute Myeloid Leukemia followed by Consolidation with a CD34+-selected Allograft) and an expanded access protocol to Elranatamab (Elranatamab Expanded Access Protocol in Adults With Relapsed/Refractory Multiple Myeloma (MAGNETISMM17).


Each year, Dr. Koehne leads the Miami Cancer Institute Global Summit on Immunotherapies for Hematologic Malignancies, a gathering of experts from around the world who share their latest research on a variety of blood cancers.

“The pace of research is rapid and clinical trials lead to new treatments,” he says. “It is through collaboration that we can make the greatest strides.”

Healthcare that Cares

With internationally renowned centers of excellence, 12 hospitals, more than 27,000 employees, 4,000 physicians and 200 outpatient centers, urgent care facilities and physician practices spanning across Miami-Dade, Monroe, Broward and Palm Beach counties, Baptist Health is an anchor institution of the South Florida communities we serve.

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