for people ages up to 30 years (full criteria)
at San Francisco, California
study started
estimated completion
Principal Investigator
Christopher Dvorak, MD
Photo of Christopher Dvorak
Christopher Dvorak



Thrombotic microangiopathy (TMA) is a common complication in the stem cell transplant population. Certain populations within the hematopoietic stem cell transplant (HSCT) population are at a higher risk than others. Defibrotide is an endothelial stabilizing agent which may prevent the endothelial damage that triggers TMA in HSCT patients. The feasibility, safety, and efficacy of defibrotide prophylaxis in a pediatric transplant population is unknown. Twenty five patients age 0 to 30 years receiving autologous or allogeneic hematopoeitic stem cell transplant who meet TMA high risk criteria will be enrolled. Patients will receive Defibrotide for 28-35 days starting before conditioning, and will be closely monitored for any adverse events up through 6 months post-transplant. The feasibility of administering defibrotide will be evaluated as well as incidence of TMA.

Official Title

A Pilot Trial of Using Pre-Transplant Risk Stratification and Prophylactic Defibrotide to Prevent Serious Thrombotic Microangiopathy in High-Risk Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplant Patients


This is an open-label, single arm pilot study of defibrotide given as prophylaxis to patients receiving a conditioned stem cell transplant for the purpose of preventing post-transplant microangiopathy. The University of California San Francisco Blood and Marrow Transplant program reviewed all cases of non-relapse related death from 2012 through 2015 and identified a complication of endothelial injury known as transplant associated thrombotic microangiopathy (TMA) as the most common cause of transplant related mortality in its patient population. TMA is a multi-system disease in which widespread endothelial injury leads to microangiopathic hemolytic anemia, intravascular platelet activation and formation of thrombi within the microcirculation. Diagnosis of TMA can be difficult as systemic signs and symptoms of TMA are often similar to other common transplant complications, such as medication induced hypertension and cytopenias. The reported prevalence of TMA is varied likely due to diagnostic uncertainty and transplant center expertise, but large retrospective studies have reported it as 10-39%, with the majority of cases occurring in the first 100 days after transplant. Of the patients who develop TMA, approximately half of them will develop severe disease. Outcomes are poor with a reported 30-50% mortality rate and as high as 80% in patients with severe disease. Furthermore, survivors of TMA may have significant morbidity (e.g. renal failure and need for long-term dialysis, heart failure, and significantly prolonged hospital admission). There is no gold standard of treatment for TMA. Supportive care includes renal support, discontinuation of calcineurin inhibitors, and treatment of infections. Treatment options include plasma exchange, complement cascade blockade, and defibrotide. Early treatment is crucial to decrease morbidity and mortality.

Despite the early recognition and treatment of TMA, poor outcomes occur when patients are treated with complement blockade alone. This suggests that complement activation may trigger a complex cascade of parallel inflammatory mediators that lead to end organ damage independent of the complement pathway. The goal is to prevent TMA whenever possible via augmentation of endothelial repair. Defibrotide is an anticoagulant and fibrinolytic agent that has been shown to be an effective treatment in other endothelial disorders such as hepatic veno-occlusive disease. It is a polydeoxyribonucleotide salt that blocks plasminogen activator inhibitor-1 (PAI-1) and attenuates the effect of tumor necrosis factor. It also increases prostaglandin E2 and prostacyclin levels which alters the platelet activity adhesion and aggregation and relaxes the smooth muscle of blood vessel walls. All of this likely protects the endothelium from damage. It has been shown that patients with TMA who were treated with defibrotide had a 77% response rate.

The use of defibrotide in the context of veno occlusive disease (VOD) treatment and prevention has been studied extensively, including a landmark report showing that defibrotide given to children during stem cell transplant conditioning is safe and effective in the prevention of veno-occlusive disease. Also, defibrotide showed a 67-77% response rate when used as treatment in patients who developed TMA. However, there has not been a prospective study to show that such prophylaxis is effective in the prevention of TMA in pediatric patients undergoing hematopoetic stem cell transplant (HCT).

Patients will receive Defibrotide 6.25mg/kg via two hour intravenous infusions given every 6 hours. Defibrotide will start the day before conditioning is initiated, and will last for 28 to 35 days. During defibrotide administration, participants will have assessments of administration feasibility, hypersensitivity reaction, and bleeding. All hematopoietic stem cell transplant standard of care evaluations will be conducted, including routine clinical evaluations and laboratory assessments.

Patients will be followed for 6 months post-HSCT, or until death, whichever occurs first. All patients will be evaluated for toxicity from the time of their first treatment with the study drug. The study will use the CTCAE v4.03 for reporting of non-hematologic adverse events and modified criteria for hematologic adverse events. Patients removed from study for unacceptable treatment related adverse event(s) will be followed until resolution or stabilization of all treatment-related adverse events to Grade 2 or lower.

Biomarkers indicative of endothelial damage and TMA activity will be drawn to assess subclinical TMA activity as well as risk for subsequent development of TMA while on defibrotide. These include plasma free hemoglobin, suppression of tumorigenicity, angiopoietin 2, and plasminogen activator inhibitor - 1. Study labs will be assessed at 4 time points prior to Day +21, and at diagnosis of TMA.


Thrombotic Microangiopathies hematopoeitic stem cell transplant prophylactic defibrotide Defibrotide


You can join if…

Open to people ages up to 30 years

  1. Age 0-30 years of age
  2. Life expectancy > 6 months
  3. Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group or Karnofsky Performance Status >40
  4. Meets minimum organ function requirements per institutional standard of care guiding clearance for autologous or allogeneic stem cell transplantation.
  5. Patients must meet TMA High-Risk criteria 5A or 5B below:

5A. Patients undergoing tandem autologous transplant with thiotepa in one or more of the conditioning regimens


5B. . Patients with at least 3 of the following characteristics:

  1. >10 years of age
  2. Non-Caucasian race/ Hispanic ethnicity
  3. Undergoing haploidentical transplant
  4. Minor ABO blood group mismatch

You CAN'T join if...

  1. Age >30 years
  2. Life expectancy < 6 months
  3. Known bleeding diathesis or bleeding risk deemed by the treating physician to be a contraindication to administration of anticoagulants.
  4. Known hypersensitivity reaction to defibrotide
  5. Any patient not meeting TMA High-Risk criteria
  6. Pregnant women are excluded from this study because they will be receiving teratogenic therapy as part of the stem cell transplant.


  • Benioff Children's Hospital at UCSF Medical Center accepting new patients
    San Francisco California 94143 United States

Lead Scientist at UCSF

  • Christopher Dvorak, MD
    My Research Interests are divided into 3 areas of focus: 1. Supportive Care (especially Invasive Fungal Infections) following Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplantation 2. Transplantation for Severe Combined Immunodeficiency 3.


accepting new patients
Start Date
Completion Date
University of California, San Francisco
Phase 2
Study Type
Last Updated