Myelodysplastic Syndrome

Myelodysplastic syndrome, or MDS, encompasses a group of diseases in which the bone marrow doesn’t produce healthy blood cells as it should. About one-third of MDS patients will develop acute myeloid leukemia, or AML.

Fred Hutch is a world leader in MDS research. Our experts are developing innovative ways to detect and diagnose MDS, unraveling how MDS progresses to leukemia, and conducting clinical trials that could lead to new treatments. Our researchers pioneered bone marrow transplantation, currently the only type of treatment that can cure MDS.  

Researchers and Patient Treatments

Dr. Damian Green

Our Myelodysplastic Syndrome Researchers

Our interdisciplinary scientists and clinicians work together to prevent, diagnose and treat myelodysplastic syndrome as well as other cancers and diseases.

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Patient Treatment & Care

At Fred Hutch, our interdisciplinary teams work together to prevent, diagnose and treat cancer, HIV/AIDS and other diseases. Our aim is to provide patients access to advanced treatment options while getting the best cancer care.

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Selected Myelodysplastic Syndrome Clinical Trials

Clinical research is an essential part of the scientific process that leads to new treatments and better care. Clinical trials can also be a way for patients to get early access to new cutting-edge therapies. Our clinical research teams are running clinical studies on various kinds of myelodysplastic syndrome.

Relapse / Refractory Myelodysplastic Syndrome

Relapsed myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS) means the disease has returned. If the first treatment you try doesn't work against your cancer, a doctor might call this primary refractory disease. Refractory means your cancer doesn't improve with treatment, or it stops responding to treatment. If a cancer initially improves, but then gets resistant to the treatment and starts growing again, it is relapsed/refractory MDS.

Relapse / Refractory Clinical Trial

High-Risk Myelodysplastic Syndrome

Higher-risk myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS) are defined by patients who fall into higher-risk group categories in the original or revised International Prognostic Scoring System. The risk score is based on the percentage of blasts and the chromosomal abnormalities present in the bone marrow cells, combined with the severity of cytopenias, and it ranges from very low-risk to very high-risk.

High-Risk Clinical Trial

See All Myelodysplastic Syndrome Clinical Trials

Myelodysplastic Syndrome Research

MDS research at Fred Hutch encompasses every aspect of the syndrome’s biology, progression and treatment. It takes place in the laboratory, where we are cracking the secrets of how MDS starts and how it leads to leukemia. It includes our world-renowned clinical research on new methods for treating and caring for MDS patients. And it stretches through a patient’s lifespan, as we track survivors’ quality of life decades after treatment. 

Blood Stem Cell (Hematopoietic) Transplantation

Fred Hutch scientists are improving blood stem cell transplantation to save the lives of more people with MDS. Blood stem cell transplantation is an updated version of bone marrow transplantation in which blood-forming stem cells may be taken from peripheral blood instead of bone marrow.

We are learning the secrets of immune genetics to find better-matched donors for each patient and developing less toxic transplantation regimens. Our researchers are also developing newer forms of transplantation that can offer a patient a good chance of success even without a fully matched donor. 

All of these advances are informed by our research on the fundamental biology of blood-forming cells, the immune system and MDS itself.


We are world leaders in harnessing the immune system to attack cancer and other diseases. Fred Hutch researchers are developing radioimmunotherapies that use specialized immune proteins known as antibodies to selectively ferry radioactivity to abnormal blood cells in MDS patients, sparing normal tissues.

Improving Diagnostics and Prognostics

Fred Hutch scientists are developing better ways to diagnose MDS. They are also developing new tests for determining prognosis — the likely course of a patient’s disease. This information can help doctors choose the best treatment for each individual patient.

Survivorship and Treatment Complicaitons

During and after treatment for MDS, patients can experience numerous side effects that affect their physical, emotional and social well-being. Our scientists are developing supportive care for patients to protect them from treatment complications and improve their quality of life. They are also studying the long-term and late effects of MDS treatment to improve the quality of life for survivors, even years after treatment.

Latest Myelodysplastic Syndrome News

Eight Fred Hutch teams win Evergreen Fund awards Research projects with commercial partnership potential receive grants of up to $200K December 13, 2022
Two Fred Hutch postdocs named 2021 Damon Runyon Fellows Awards to Drs. Edie Crosse and Ching-Ho Chang fund ‘creative, high-risk projects’ in cancer research August 13, 2021
Dr. Rob Bradley named new McIlwain Family Endowed Chair in Data Science Computational biologist uses data science to understand cancer biology and to seek new treatment targets July 28, 2020
Scientists discover new process shaping red blood cell development Finding could shed new light on causes of certain cancers, anemias October 21, 2019