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Early infusion of donor T cells prevents graft versus host disease in blood cancer patients
Date:2/3/2011

(WASHINGTON, February 3, 2011) For blood cancer patients at high risk of relapse, hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT), the transplantation of blood-forming stem cells, is one of best options for treatment and a potential cure. Unfortunately, the most common complication of HSCT is graft-versus-host disease (GVHD), a serious and often deadly post-transplant complication that occurs when the newly transplanted donor cells recognize the recipient's own cells as foreign and react by attacking the cells in the patient's body. A study published today in Blood, the Journal of the American Society of Hematology, highlights updated results for a potential new strategy for preventing GVHD and promoting the patient's immune system recovery after transplant.

Patients who do not have a compatible donor in the family or in donor registries must rely on a transplant from alternative sources, such as a partially matched donor, as their only hope for cure. To ensure the success of transplants from partially matched donors, the donated stem cells must be treated before they are transplanted into the patient. This treatment depletes the donor's T cells, which are critical for promoting immune recovery after transplant but can also trigger severe and potentially fatal GVHD. Therefore, managing the dual function of T cells is critical before and after the transplant procedure.

In a trial conducted at the University of Perugia in Italy by a group that has pioneered the use of partially matched donors, researchers explored the use of a population of T cells called regulatory T cells (Tregs) that control immune reactions. Regulatory T cells have been widely studied in animal models and have been shown to promote the acceptance of organ grafts and control abnormal immune reactions associated with GVHD. They have not yet been tested in humans prior to
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Contact: Lindsey Love
webmaster@hematology.org
202-552-4925
American Society of Hematology
Source:Eurekalert

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