An Italian-Scandinavian treatment and research protocol with high-dose chemotherapy and double peripheral blood stem cell (PBSC) transplantation has been designed in an attempt to improve overall results of children with metastatic osteosarcoma (OST). Six patients, aged 12-17 years, underwent PBSC mobilization with CY 4 g/m2 and VP-16 600 mg/m2 followed by G-CSF (n = 4 with recurrent disease) or ifosfamide 15 g/m2 plus G-CSF (n = 2 with synchronous metastases). The target dose of CD34+ cells for two transplant procedures was 8 x 106/kg or more; conditioning regimen for both the grafts consisted of carboplatin 375 mg/m2/day for 4 days and VP16 450 mg/m2/day for 4 days. The first transplant was planned 2-4 weeks after the mobilization, the second transplant 4-6 weeks after the first graft. In three patients a single course of CY-VP16 mobilised a total number of CD34+ sufficient for two transplants; in the patient who did not obtain the target dose of CD34+ cells a bone marrow harvest was added. In the two other children high-dose ifosfamide failed to achieve the required CD34+ number: one patient underwent a single transplant procedure, one patient was successfully mobilized with doxorubicin 90 mg/m2 plus G-CSF. Patients underwent a median of two collections (range 2-4). Leukapheresis resulted in the collection of a median of 8.9 CD34+ cells/kg (range 1.3-14.8). The median time to granulocyte count recovery to more than 0.5 x 109/l was 10 days (range 9-14 days) after the first graft and 11 days (range 10-12 days) after the second graft, respectively. Platelets recovered to 50 x 109/l at a median of 11 (range 10-30 days) and 13 days (range 10-28) respectively after the first and the second graft. Conditioning regimen was well tolerated in all patients with mild extra haematological toxicity, also following the second transplant. Two patients grafted with metastases at diagnosis are alive and disease free 3 and 7 months from the transplant. One of the four patients transplanted for recurrent disease developed pulmonary metastases 2 months after the procedure; one patient is alive with significant reduction of tumor mass 1 month after the first transplant, one patient is alive without evidence of disease 9 months from the second transplant and one after a complete metastasectomy (tumor necrosis > 90%) which followed the second transplant. With the limits of the small number of cases and the short follow-up, these preliminary results show that this approach may be promising for the treatment of patients with metastatic OST who currently are not cured by conventional-dose regimens.
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