New method improves transplant safety in mice

Wednesday, February 20, 2019 - 01:20 in Health & Medicine

Blood stem cell transplants — also known as bone-marrow transplants — can cure many blood, immune, autoimmune, and metabolic disorders, from leukemia to sickle-cell disease. But to make sure the healthy blood cells “take,” doctors first have to deplete the patient’s own, defective blood stem cells using intensive chemotherapy or whole-body radiation. This wipes out the patient’s immune system, raising the risk of infection and often causing serious side effects, including anemia, infertility, secondary cancers, organ damage, and even death. “We know that stem cell transplants can cure dozens of blood disorders, including exciting progress with treating autoimmunity,” said Professor David Scadden, co-director of the Harvard Stem Cell Institute and director of the Center for Regenerative Medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital. “Yet they are rarely used beyond treating blood cancers because of the extreme rigors the patients must endure.” New research led by Scadden and his colleagues at Harvard University has demonstrated...

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