Antibody infusions appear highly effective for preventing life-threatening bacterial infections among patients with the most common form of adult leukemia, researchers reported Wednesday.

An international study involving 84 patients with chronic lymphocytic leukemia found infusions of immunoglobulin G reduced their risk for bacterial infection by nearly half."We conclude that selected patients with chronic lymphocytic leukemia who are at risk of bacterial infection can be substantially protected from this complication by the regular intravenous administration of immunoglobulin," the researchers wrote in The New England Journal of Medicine.

There are about 9,600 new cases of chronic lymphocytic leukemia among adults in the United States each year. Victims' bone marrow produces abnormal white blood cells that fail to make enough antibodies to protect them from disease.

Although victims of this form of leukemia can often live for years, they usually suffer frequent hospitalizations due to life-threatening infections, such as pneumonia.