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HIV drug reduces graft-vs.-host disease in bone marrow transplant patients, Penn study shows
Date:7/11/2012

PHILADELPHIA -- An HIV drug that redirects immune cell traffic significantly reduces the incidence of a dangerous complication that often follows bone marrow transplants for blood cancer patients, according to research from the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania that will be published today in the New England Journal of Medicine. The findings represent a new tactic for the prevention of graft-versus-host disease (GvHD), which afflicts up to 70 percent of transplant patients and is a leading cause of deaths associated with the treatment.

Allogeneic bone marrow transplantation also known as stem cell transplantation involve the transfusion of a matched donor's blood stem cells to rebuild the patient's bone marrow after treatment has eliminated both the defective blood cells associated with their cancer and their healthy blood cells.

"It appears that our new approach allows us to prevent some patients from developing GvHD by redirecting immune cells away from certain sensitive organs that they could harm," says lead author Ran Reshef, MD, an assistant professor in the division of Hematology-Oncology and a member of the Hematologic Malignancies Research Program at Penn's Abramson Cancer Center. "This is a novel way for us to try to decrease treatment-related complications among bone marrow transplant patients without also reducing their new immune system's ability to attack their cancer."

Typically, patients receive immunosuppressive drugs following their transplant to lower the risk of developing graft-versus-host disease (GvHD), which occurs when the newly transplanted immune cells attack healthy tissue they perceive as foreign. But since patients' own immune systems must be wiped out in order to receive their transplants, those drugs leave patients even more vulnerable to life-threatening infections and to a relapse of their cancer. The Penn team found that treatment with the HIV drug maraviroc dr
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Contact: Holly Auer
holly.auer@uphs.upenn.edu
215-200-2313
University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine
Source:Eurekalert

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