Acute myeloid leukemia survivor finds hope with clinical trials

Six months after Emily Augenstein’s acute myeloid leukemia diagnosis, a doctor in Pittsburgh told her that her allogeneic stem cell transplant had failed and she needed to get her affairs in order. “I was mortified,” Emily recalls. “I went home, and my husband and I were crying. Then we searched online for the best cancer hospital in the world, and MD Anderson came up.” A clinical trial and a second stem cell transplant In August 2012, Emily came to MD Anderson hoping that a second opinion from Simrit Parmar, M.D., and Naval Daver, M.D., would yield better news. “When I met with Dr. Daver and Dr. Parmer, they told me that because I had the FLT3 genetic mutation, I’d likely have more success with a different kind of stem cell transplant,” she says. Like the first one, this one would be an allogeneic transplant, but this time, the stem cells would be extracted from a registry donor’s bone marrow. Emily first needed to undergo a chemotherapy regimen to prepare her body for a transplant. She enrolled into a clinical trial examining the safety and effectiveness of a combination of the chemo drugs sorafenib and 5-Azacitidine in the treatment of relapsed acute myeloid leukemia. In November 2012, Emily underwent her stem cell transplant, thanks to an anonymous bone marrow donor. Though the procedure was successful, the cancer returned a few months later in February 2013. Facing two more leukemia relapses                    “I was scared but at the same time, I knew in my heart that MD Anderson had it under control,” Emily says of her recurrence. But with relapses after...