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Recent Research Holds Wealth of Promise to Bone Marrow Patients

Australian researchers seem to have made headway in the development of an investigative blood test that could recognize the vulnerability of patients to develop complications in the bone marrow, leading to life threatening difficulties.

A conjoined effort between Brisbane's Mater Medical Research Institute (MMRI) and Sydney's West mead Hospital Bone Marrow Transplant Unit has resulted in a simple blood test to detect such tendencies.

Researchers have produced an antibody created from immunized mouse cells that effectively keeps a check on white blood cells, called dendritic cells. These cells are behind the occurrence of graft versus host disease (GVHD) - where donor cells destroy the patients cells.

GVHD negatively impacts the life of nearly 85 per cent of bone marrow transplant patients and kills almost 15 per cent. Sufferers may face acute skin infections, severe abdominal pain, and liver failure.

This antibody developed by researchers will enable a warning to doctors when dendritic cells just about begin their destruction activity. This will allow for treatment to commence much earlier, than later, giving a chance for better treatment outcomes.

MMRI director Professor Derek Hart said,"Think of it as a big fire inside the patient - it's much easier to put out a small fire than a large fire. The excitement is that if you can start much earlier you could switch it off with less use of drugs, with fewer problems and stop the fire gaining hold."

Prof Hart explained the present treatment which involved giving drugs after the onset of infection; but it would greatly help if it is treated before the onset, so that the immune system is not greatly affected. Further testing and research of this new method is required before it can be employed, researchers said.


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