Bone marrow transplants in cancer patients could be three times more successful due to a new treatment regime discovered by scientists.
Research published in The Lancet journal has suggested that combining bortezomib alongside dexamethasone and thalidomide can treat patients newly diagnosed with multiple myeloma who are suitable for bone marrow transplant.
Multiple myeloma is a type of bone marrow cancer that affects the plasma cells - white blood cells found in the bone marrow.
The disease develops due to plasma cells growing abnormally. The surrounding bone is also destroyed with the growth of the plasma cell tumour.
This leads to damage to the kidneys, pain in the bones and an impaired immune system.
Italian scientists discovered that 11% of patients who took thalidomide and dexamethasone and then received a transplant later displayed no signs of cancer.
In contrast, 31% of those given the three drugs simultaneously were free of signs of cancer after transplant.
The authors say: “[The regime] represents a new standard of care to maximise the degree and speed of tumour reduction in patients with myeloma who are eligible for transplant.”