Genovefa (Zenia) Papanicolaou, MD, on Managing Infectious Diseases in Patients Receiving Stem Cell Transplant or Cell Therapy


The infectious diseases specialist at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center discussed the session she chaired for the Infectious Diseases Track at Tandem’s 2024 Meeting.

“One of the studies that was presented was about the immunogenicity of COVID-19 vaccines in patients after cellular therapy. I think the immune responses in immunocompromised patients is a major area of interest, particularly with new vaccines coming up, such as the respiratory virus vaccine. I think we want to stress the need for trials dedicated to stem cell transplant patients or recipients of cellular therapy because these are the patients at highest risk from infections from vaccine-preventable diseases...”

Hematopoietic stem cell transplant (HCT) and increasingly cellular therapies like chimeric antigen receptor T-cell therapy are important treatment options for patients with blood cancers, as well as some nonmalignant hematological diseases like sickle cell disease. Although these treatment options can have a transformative or even curative impact on some patients’ disease, they tend to carry the inherent risk of severly weakening the immune system, especially during the immediate treatment period. As such, patients receiving these treatments are highly vulnerable to infectious diseases.

For the first time at the 2024 Tandem Meetings |Transplantation & Cellular Therapy Meetings of ASTCT and CIBMTR, held in San Antonio, Texas, February 21-24, 2024, the conference included a dedicated Infectious Diseases Track to bring attention to and foster collaboration in addressing this risk of infection. Notably, Genovefa (Zenia) Papanicolaou, MD, an infectious diseases specialist at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, chaired a session in this track entitled “Challenging Cases in HCT and Cellular Therapy”.

After the session, CGTLive® sat down with Papanicolaou to ask about the major topics discussed in the various talks in the track and to get her perspective on the key takeaways for doctors and the healthcare community. Papanicolaou highlighted several important talks, such as a case study of fusarium infection and results from a phase 1 trial of multivirus-specific T-cells for respiratory viruses. She also emphasized the need for vaccine studies specifically for patients who have undergone HCT or cell therapy, and concluded the interview by encouraging interested ASTCT members to join the Infectious Disease Special Interest Group within the organization.

Click here for more coverage of Tandem 2024.

1. Papanicolaou GA. ID-02 - (ID) Challenging cases in HCT and cellular therapy. Presented at: 2024 Tandem Meetings, February 21-24, San Antonio, Texas.
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