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How can we protect patients with weakened immune systems from influenza?

r three weeks later," said Dr. Sullivan.

The research teams will measure T cell and B cell counts in the targeted patients. Both types of cells play important roles in the immune system. T cells that recognize and fight influenza may help predict whether a patient will produce protective antibodies after vaccination. Producing those antibodies is the job of B cells. "We hope to be able to use a simple blood test to help determine which immunocompromised patients will benefit from an influenza vaccine," added Dr. Sullivan.

The full grant encompasses six projects, each of which focuses on particular immunocompromised subpopulations. Ultimately, the researchers expect to have customized treatment recommendations for each group.

Half of the projects cover children at The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. One project will study immune responses in children receiving different intensities of chemotherapy for solid tumors and two types of leukemia. Another project is dedicated to children with neuroblastoma, a solid tumor of the peripheral nervous system, who are treated with a novel type of stem cell transplant. Both chemotherapy and stem cell transplants involve suppressing the patients' immune defenses. A third group of patients has chromosome 22q.11.2 deletion syndrome, a congenital multisystem disorder that impairs the immune system. Children's Hospital is a world leader in studying and treating this syndrome.

Three projects involving adults are led by researchers in the University of Pennsylvania Health System. Two projects involve cancer patients: those receiving stem cell transplants for multiple myeloma (a cancer originating in bone marrow) and patients with ovarian cancer receiving an experimental treatment--an anti-cancer vaccine made from dendritic cells. Carl June, M.D., director of translational research at Penn's Abramson Cancer Center, leads both projects.

A third group of adult patients suffers from autoimmune d
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Source:Children's Hospital of Philadelphia


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