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Transplant reaction reversed in patients

12:11pm, December 19, 2006

From Orlando, Fla., at a meeting of the American Society of Hematology

Patients with leukemia get a fighting chance when they receive a transplant of bone marrow cells from a healthy donor. Unfortunately, immune cells from these new arrivals can run amok in the recipient, creating a life-threatening complication called graft-versus-host disease (GVHD).

Last year, scientists in Sweden trying a new approach to reverse severe GVHD in 16 patients reported some early success (SN: 12/24/05, p. 417: Available to subscribers at Rare marrow cells tackle deadly immune reaction). They gave patients an additional transplant, using only adult mesenchymal stem cells from the marrow. These cells typically become bone, muscle, or other connective tissues but also can develop into a wide variety of other cells.

The researchers now report that 52 people who had severe GVHD after a previous bone marrow transplant have undergone the novel procedure.

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