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Select immune cells help marrow grafts

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9:35am, January 8, 2004

From San Diego, at a meeting of the American Society of Hematology

By excising certain immune cells from donor bone marrow, physicians have devised a new and possibly more versatile way of performing marrow transplants.

These transplants give healthy, blood-producing cells to people with diseases such as leukemia. In optimal cases, a sibling or someone else with certain immunity genes nearly identical to a recipient's is available to donate marrow.

"But many people die for lack of a matched donor," says Andrea Velardi of the University of Perugia in Italy. When only mismatched marrow is available, the recipient's immune system must be temporarily knocked out so it won't attack the transplanted cells. Moreover, the immune cells from the donor's marrow need to be stripped out to prevent them from attacking the recipient's body, causing what's called graft-versus-host disease. Until the recipient's immune system recovers, he or she is excessively vulnerable

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