Research and Clinical Trials

City of Hope's Hematologic Malignancies and Stem Cell Transplantation Institute is recognized internationally for its breakthrough research discoveries and clinical trials for developing new ways to treat hematological cancers. Patients at City of Hope will have the ability to enroll in these trials, which can expand their treatment options and improve their outcomes. Learn more about our clinical trials program.

Highlights of our current research efforts include:

Reducing the Risk of GvHD

While stem cell transplants can be a lifesaving procedure for patients with hematologic disorders, it also carries a risk of graft-versus-host disease (GvHD), in which the newly transplanted stem cells do not recognize the recipient’s body as their own and start producing an immune response against it, leading to chronic and potentially serious complications. To reduce the likelihood of GvHD and to improve transplant outcomes, City of Hope is researching new ways to classify and match stem cell donors and recipients.

Adoptive T Cell Therapy

Harnessing the patient’s own immune system against the cancer, specifically through T cell modification. In this experimental therapy, the patient’s own T cells are extracted from the body, modified to recognize and attack cancer cells and reinfused back into the patient. This treatment has shown positive results for patients with lymphoma and lymphoid leukemia and is currently being studied for its potential against myeloid leukemia and multiple myeloma.

Nonmyeloablative (Mini) Transplants

Our use and refinement of nonmyeloablative (“mini”) transplants, which relies less on the heavy doses of chemotherapy and radiation and more on the anti-cancer effects of the transplant itself. This novel approach allows otherwise ineligible patients, such as older patients or those who cannot tolerate radiation/chemotherapy-related effects, to be treated with this lifesaving procedure.

Specialized Drug Studies

Continual development and improvement of drug regimens to treat hematologic cancers. Recently, City of Hope had led a national study of the drug brentuximab in patients with relapsed Hodgkin lymphoma, in whom the drug produced a high rate of response compared to standard therapy.

Leukemia Stem Cell Research

The Department of Hematologic Malignancies Translational Science is currently investigating leukemia stem cells, which several studies have suggested to cause leukemia. By identifying and eradicating these cancerous stem cells — instead of just the mature leukemia cells that conventional therapies target — a definitive cure for this disease can be achieved.

Long-term Follow-up Program

City of Hope has a formal Long-term Follow-up Program that monitors all patients who have received a transplant at City of Hope to ensure they have optimal quality of life following their diagnoses and treatments. The program also helps researchers compile data on long-term outcomes to increase awareness of the kinds of problems, both physical and psychological, that some patients face after transplant, so patients can receive timely and appropriate information and care.

National Cancer Institute Project Grant

City of Hope’s Hematologic Malignancies and Stem Cell Transplantation Institute has been continuously funded for nearly 30 years by the National Cancer Institute (NCI) to develop innovative therapies for people battling leukemia, lymphoma and other cancers. The NCI grant supports continuing research aimed at improving the outcome for patients undergoing either autologous or allogeneic transplant for a hematologic cancer. The grant also allows researchers at City of Hope to develop laboratory-based clinical studies to expand the scope and applications of stem cell transplants. These studies include incorporating gene transfer, molecular biology, radioimmunotherapy, cellular immunotherapy and genetics to improve transplant outcomes.

SPORE Grant

City of Hope was awarded a Specialized Program of Research Excellence (SPORE) grant to further its work in utilizing transplant and nontransplant approaches for the treatment of lymphoma. This SPORE is one of only five lymphoma SPORE awards granted in the United States and builds upon the expertise in the transplant and cancer immunotherapy programs at City of Hope.