Haematologists have been pioneering in the application of the biotechnology to the health. In fact, the first ‘intelligent drug’ of the history –the famous Gleevec- was designed for the treatment of cronic myeloid leukaemia (CML), a hematologic cancer that originates for an exaggerated production of granulocytes, due to a genetic alteration. Thanks to the treatments nowadays available for this disease -direct consequence of Imatinib's approval in 2001-, the control and probably cure of the CML is obtained in 90 % of the patients.
After this scientific and health success, biotechnology opens now new and promising routes of hope in different areas of Hematology. A good example could be the CART therapy, based on the production of genetically modified T lymphocytes in order that they recognize antigens on the surface of tumour cells and destroy them. This will allow to carry out antitumoral immunotherapy strategies with high efficiency. Recent results show extraordinary powerful antitumoral activity in acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL), chronic lymphatic leukaemia (CLL) and non-Hodgkin lymphoma. This technology is being explored in acute myeloid leukemia (AML), multiple myeloma and Hodgkin lymphoma.
The hematologists have the “know how” of handling blood cells and bone marrow stem cells to treat a wide variety of benign and malignant diseases. The great success of transfusion medicine and the hematopoietic stem cell transplants were the first clinical evidence that cells may be used as medicaments to cure. Bone marrow mesenchymal stem cells have an enormous immunomodulatory and anti-inflammatory potential. Spain is a European leader in cell therapy clinical trials that are becoming a clinical reality. This is possible because the Institute Carlos iii from the Spanish Ministry of Health created a national net (TerCel) of basic and clinical researchers with the mission of getting cell therapy to the clinic. Hematologists coordinate TerCel and are involved in the technology and GMP facilities required to produce these new cellular medicaments.
In line with the previous strategy of cell therapy, engineering red cells with new enzymes that converts the blood to the type of universal donor might overcome a very important problem: lack of blood for transfusions.
- José M. Moraleda: President,
Spanish Society of Hematology & Hemotherapy -SEHH (Spain)
Eduardo Olavarría: Department of Haematology, HAMMERSMITH
HOSPITAL (United Kingdom). “Imatinib: the first ‘intelligent drug’ of
José María Ribera: Head of Clinical Hematology,
Catalan Institute of Oncology, UNIVERSITARY HOSPITAL
GERMANS TRIAS I PUJOL (Spain). “Immunotherapy strategies in
hametological malignancies: from the monoclonal drugs to the CART therapy”.
Damián García Olmo: Professor, AUTONOMOUS UNIVERSITY OF
MADRID (Spain). “From blood cells to stem cells: the era of living
Manuel Cárdenas: President, Spanish Society of Blood Transfusion and Cellular Therapy-SETS (Spain). “Looking for the