Salvage of patients with acute promyelocytic leukaemia with residual disease following ABMT performed in second CR using all-trans retinoic acid

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Detection of residual disease after completion of therapy or following bone marrow transplantation (BMT) in patients with acute promyelocytic leukaemia (APL) predicts relapse and is associated with a poor prognosis. Here we describe the successful treatment of residual disease post-transplant in APL using prolonged all-trans retinoic acid (ATRA) therapy in two children in whom autologous BMT (ABMT) had been performed in second complete remission (CR). ATRA treatment was well tolerated and found to be beneficial despite its prior use as a component of the initial induction protocol. ATRA therapy post-transplant led to molecular remission as determined by fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) as well as reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) analyses and remission now exceeds 3.5 years in both patients. Overall, this study not only demonstrates that ATRA may successfully salvage APL patients with residual disease post-transplant, but also suggests a potential role for retinoids post-consolidation as a means of eliminating residual disease which could be beneficial even in patients previously exposed to ATRA as a component of the induction protocol.

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