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Circles Of DNA Might Help Predict Success Of Stem Cell Transplantation

during a "mix-and-match" rearrangement of these genes into any one of countless combinations. The rings represent sections of DNA cut out of chromosomes during the mixing and matching of genes that are chosen to build a particular receptor. Each T cell uses the resulting combination of genes to make a receptor that lets the cell recognize a specific target. When stimulated to multiply, each of those cells produce an army of immune cells against their designated target.

Specific infectious organisms or other foreign substances stimulate T cells to divide and multiply in order to form an attacking army. However, the sjTRECs don't multiply when the original T cells divide and multiply. Instead, the more T cells that are produced in the blood as the parent cells containing sjTRECs divide and produce daughter cells, the more the sjTRECs in those original T cells get "diluted" within the growing army of these immune cells. This proves that high levels of sjTREC in blood means that a large number of stem cells have been converted to parent T cells--each of which targets a specific foreign substance, according to Rupert Handgretinger, M.D., Ph.D., director of Stem Cell Transplantation at St. Jude and co-director of the Transplantation and Gene Therapy Program.

"sjTRECs appear only after the gene shuffling has successfully occurred in the parent cell," Handgretinger said. "So if we extract large numbers of sjTRECs from T cells in the blood of a patient about to undergo a stem cell transplant, that's a good sign. It means the patient's thymus is a good T-cell factory."

Handgretinger is the senior author of the Blood report.

The St. Jude team tested levels of sjTREC in the blood of 77 healthy donors who provided stem cells to their siblings. The researchers also tested 244 samples from 26 of the recipients themselves. The recipients had been treated for either white cell cancers (e.g., acute lymphoblastic leukemia) or red cell diseases (e.g., s
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Source:St. Jude Children鈥檚 Research Hospital


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