Relatively nonmyelotoxic drugs and drug combinations were investigated for their ability to eliminate malignant cells from human bone marrow. In vitro 90% inhibitory concentration (IC90) doses were established on granulocyte macrophage colony-forming units (GM-CFU) in culture of bone marrow by using the GM-CFU assay for the following drugs: 4- hydroperoxycyclophosphamide (4-HC), Adriamycin, L-asparaginase, bleomycin, hydrocortisone, VP-16, spirogermanium, Taxol, and vincristine. The leukemic cell kill efficiency of these drugs at IC90 doses was compared with that of 4-HC on acute lymphoid leukemia (ALL) cell lines by using the limiting-dilution assay. Under these conditions, no single drug was superior to 4-HC. To increase the in vitro effect in leukemic cell kill, combinations of vincristine with hydrocortisone, Adriamycin, VP-16, and 4-HC were investigated. Vincristine at 1 to 5 micrograms/mL increased the marrow cytotoxicity of hydrocortisone, Adriamycin, and VP-16, but it was protective (subadditive) with 4-HC. Vincristine and 4-HC in combination was additive to supraadditive on ALL cell lines, increased the leukemic cell kill by one to two logs above 4-HC alone at IC90 doses (P less than .05), and was not affected by the addition of excess marrow cells. The recommended doses for chemopurging in clinical studies are vincristine, 1 to 5 micrograms/mL, plus 4-HC, 5 micrograms/mL.

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