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01
Feb

Scientists in Germany have developed a new approach that may prevent leukemia and lymphoma patients from developing graft-versus-host disease (GvHD) after therapeutic bone marrow transplants. The researchers describe the successful application of their strategy in mice in “Exogenous TNFR2 activation protects from acute GvHD via host T reg cell expansion,” which will be published online August 15 ahead of issue in The Journal of Experimental Medicine.

Bone marrow transplants can cure types of leukemia and lymphoma because hematopoietic stem cells derived from the donor’s bone marrow can develop into immune cells capable of killing the patient’s tumor cells. But the donor-derived immune cells may also attack the transplant recipient’s healthy tissues, producing the diverse and sometimes severe symptoms of GvHD. One approach to avoiding GvHD is to co-transplant large numbers of regulatory T cells (T reg cells), immune cells that can suppress the donor cells’ effects on healthy tissue while maintaining their ability to kill tumor cells. This approach is challenging, however, because the T reg cells must first be isolated from the donor’s peripheral blood or bone marrow and then cultivated in the laboratory to produce sufficient numbers for transplantation.

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