EYEWITNESS NEWS (WBRE/WYOU) — Thousands of American adults are diagnosed each year with acute myeloid leukemia, or AML, one of the deadliest and most aggressive types of blood cancer. Most AML patients, no matter their age, are not long-term survivors, but there is new hope.

The National Cancer Institute says less than one in three people who have AML survive beyond five years. But, now there is new hope of improving those numbers and extending patients’ lives.

A diagnosis of acute myeloid leukemia or AML is devastating. The blood and bone marrow cancer produces immature white blood cells which interfere with normal white blood cells, red blood cells, and platelets.

“Ultimately it’s very often fatal,” says President and CEO of Vor Bio, Dr. Robert Ang.

For the roughly 20,000 people in the U.S. diagnosed each year with AML, the go-to treatments include chemotherapy, other drug therapies, and stem cell transplants. But, the promise of a revolutionary treatment breakthrough hasn’t happened in decades, until perhaps now.

“At Vor Bio, we are undergoing a clinical trial of testing a whole new approach of a next-generation stem cell transplant,” Dr. Ang explained.

Unlike existing stem cell transplant technology which allows for more chemo and can damage healthy cells, Vor Bio’s treatment, processes stem cells before they go into the AML patient’s body.

“Patients are receiving these next-generation transplants and on top of that receiving anti-cancer therapies very soon after their transplant,” Dr. Ang continued.

Dr. Ang considers this crucial since approximately 40 percent of patients with AML who receive stem cell transplants suffer a cancer relapse. Their two-year survival rate falls to less than 20 percent. Dr. Ang believes the Vor Bio treatment option can do much better.

“What that hopefully allows us to do is treat the patients after their transplant to prevent the cancer from relapsing or even aiming for cures,” Dr. Ang added.

The first phase of the Vor Bio Clinical Trial is underway. It’s still looking for AML patients who are stem cell transplant eligible and likely to relapse following the transplant.

“This is a really important approach that we need to test now that we have brought this really amazing science now into the clinic,” said Dr. Ang.

Two Vor Bio clinical trial sites are near Pennsylvania, one is at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in Manhattan.

The other is in New Jersey at John Theurer Cancer Center at Hackensack University Medical Center.