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U of M begins nation's first clinical trial using T-reg cells from cord blood in leukemia treatment
Date:9/5/2007

University of Minnesota researchers have initiated a ground breaking clinical trial to determine the optimal dose and safety of T regulatory cells (T-regs) to decrease the risk of immune reactions common in patients undergoing blood and marrow transplantation.

Ultimately, the researchers hope the experimental cellular therapy will improve overall survival rates for blood cancer patients as well as offer a potential new paradigm for treating autoimmune diseases.

Toward our quest of making transplants even safer for adults and children with leukemia, lymphoma, multiple myeloma, and other blood and marrow disorders, we are exploring the possibility of using T-regs to enhance the rate of blood and marrow recovery and reduce the risks of graft-versus-host disease, a complication that affects more than 60 percent of patients, said Claudio Brunstein, M.D., principal investigator of the study.

T-regs are a type of lymphocyte, or white blood cell that normally regulates the bodys immune responses. In the case of transplant, donor T-regs may suppress the recipients immune system so that the healthy donors blood-forming stem cells and immune cells can grow, helping ward off life-threatening graft-versus-host-disease (GVHD). GVHD occurs when the immune cells within the donated cells attack the body of the transplant recipient. GVHD causes one-third of deaths after transplant.

Researchers have proven in animal models that infusing T-regs after transplant increases the chance of blood and marrow recovery and decreases the risk of GVHD.

Once we identified that T-regs were highly effective in mouse models, we then spent three years finding ways to make this therapy valuable for transplant patients and potentially useful for patients with autoimmune diseases, said Bruce Blazar, M.D., director of the Center for Translational Medicine at the University.

The T-regs in this study are isolated from umbilical cord blood (blood collected from the placenta or
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Contact: Molly Portz
mportz@umn.edu
612-625-2640
University of Minnesota
Source:Eurekalert

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