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Stem Cell Transplantation Research at The Cancer Center at Hackensack University Medical Center Aims to Develop 'Designer' Transplants
Date:7/23/2008

one marrow (the graft) stage an immune response to the "foreign" antigens in the tissues of many organs of the host's (patient's) body. These anti-host donor T cells attack the tissues and can cause major organ failure or even death. Past research conducted by Dr. Friedman and Dr. Korngold showed that these GVHD-causing T cells can be removed from the graft to avoid development of disease, and the remaining T cells can mount responses against residual cancer cells like leukemia.

"Following allogeneic blood and marrow transplantation, mature donor T cells can enhance the engraftment process to grow new stem cells, can counteract opportunistic infections, and mount a fight against the cancerous cells but at the risk of developing GVHD," says Dr. Friedman. "The challenge for researchers is to find a way to enhance the ability of these T cells to destroy residual cancerous cells while avoiding or controlling the T cells' GVHD response."

Dr. Friedman continues: "Our Vß spectratype analysis is a powerful tool for identifying which donor T cell families cause trouble and which are helpful. With this current research, we investigated the potential of using this spectratype approach to compare donor anti-host T cell responses generated in culture with those detected in the patient after transplantation. Our results showed that there was a robust overlap between the in vitro culture responses and those in the patient, indicating that what was seen in vitro was representative of what would happen in the patients."

The researchers went a step further to evaluate whether the theoretical manipulation of a transplant by removing donor T cells that might launch a GVHD response could prove harmful by also risking the unnecessary loss of beneficial T cells.

"Our results indicated that overall there was a low risk of losing beneficial T cells," says Dr. Friedman. "This research will enable us to predict before the transplant what kind of a response we would
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SOURCE The Cancer Center
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