You've really got to hand it to all those 15-minute oil change places that dot the American landscape: they know how to pull motorists in.

With their brightly colored signs and endless promotions, it’s no wonder they succeed in getting our business. Whether you’re driving a brand new sports car or sedan with 200,000 miles on it, you’re welcome to drive up, get fresh oil and drive problem.

But when it comes to bone marrow transplants, the sobering fact is that the age of the vehicle —in this case, your body — does matter.

Bone marrow transplants are one of the few long-term effective treatments for blood cancers such as acute myeloid leukemia (AML). Most blood cancer patients are over age 55 and the proportion is increasing, but many in this group who need a transplant are ruled ineligible for the procedure. Why? Because the high-dose chemotherapy needed to prepare the patient for the transplant is often deemed too harsh for them.

Since more than two-thirds of AML patients are more than 55 years old, new tactics are desperately needed. What if a patient’s diseased bone marrow could be eradicated prior to the transplant without the need for high-dose chemo and high doses of external radiation?

This approach is being pursued by Actinium Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (disclosure - I run the company) and our lead compound, called Iomab™-B, has already been deployed in clinical trials for incurable blood cancers like AML with encouraging results. It has shown the ability to prepare such patients for bone marrow transplants when no other treatments were feasible.

Iomab™-B exploits an approach known as radioimmunotherapy, which combines two cancer-fighting agents: large proteins (called monoclonal antibodies or mAbs) that bind to cancer cells and attack them while largely sparing surrounding normal tissue, and cancer-killing radioisotopes that piggyback on the mAbs.

Credit and link:  Actinium Pharmaceuticals, Inc.

Treatment with Iomab™-B has shown in clinical studies that it does not produce the side effects associated with high-dose chemotherapy that can often be lethal to older patients. In addition, the compound is designed to prepare a patient for bone marrow transplant in only 10 days, compared to the four to six weeks required with traditional care—a potentially vital difference in the face of a fast-evolving cancer.

On the strength of results obtained to date, Actinium is will begin a pivotal clinical trial later this year.

A bone marrow transplant will never be as easy to undergo as an oil change. But if Actinium’s work bears fruit, one thing might someday be true for oil changes and bone marrow transplants alike: age won’t matter.