Research shows a promising new method to reduce graft-versus-host-disease after bone marrow transplantation

Oct 13, 2010

(PhysOrg.com) -- University of Michigan researchers have discovered a new method to prevent the immune-system attacks that often occur following bone marrow transplants.

Bone marrow transplantation can cure patients with leukemia and other cancers even when the disease is resistant to other treatments. The success of this procedure relies on killing cancer cells by using from a bone marrow donor while avoiding an against the patient's organs, which causes a dangerous complication called graft-versus-host disease.

Dr. Ivan Maillard, a U-M Life Sciences Institute professor and an assistant professor of internal medicine at the Medical School, and his lab discovered the new method and say they're encouraged by preliminary results in mouse models. The work, done in collaboration with a team at the U-M Comprehensive Cancer Center, was recently reported in the journal Blood.

The new method works by inhibiting the Notch signaling pathway in immune cells called donor . "Notch is an important pathway that researchers have started to identify multiple functions for in normal tissues and in cancer," said Maillard.

The research team found that Notch-deficient T cells had a markedly reduced ability to produce inflammatory mediators and to damage the normal organs of the recipient mice.

However, unlike previous interventions, Notch inhibition had selective effects and did not cause global immunosuppression. In particular, the Notch-deficient T cells remained able to efficiently kill . This resulted in the elimination of the tumor cells without causing life-threatening graft-versus-host disease.

The LSI team is excited by the future prospects brought by this discovery. In particular, an expanding set of reagents is being developed to target components of Notch signaling that can someday be developed into effective new therapies for patients.

This work was supported by an Innovation Award from the Damon Runyon Cancer Research Foundation, the American Society of Hematology, and the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center.

Explore further: Diet affects men's and women's gut microbes differently

More information: bloodjournal.hematologylibrary.org/papbyrecent.dtl

Related Stories

Cancer drug shows promise against graft vs. host disease

Jul 10, 2008

A new University of Michigan study in mice suggests that a drug recently approved to fight cancer tumors is also able to reduce the effects of graft-versus-host disease, a common and sometimes fatal complication ...

Recommended for you

Diet affects men's and women's gut microbes differently

8 hours ago

The microbes living in the guts of males and females react differently to diet, even when the diets are identical, according to a study by scientists from The University of Texas at Austin and six other institutions published ...

Researchers explore what happens when heart cells fail

9 hours ago

Through a grant from the United States-Israel Binational Science Foundation, Biomedical Engineering Associate Professor Naomi Chesler will embark upon a new collaborative research project to better understand ...

Stem cells from nerves form teeth

12 hours ago

Researchers at Karolinska Institutet in Sweden have discovered that stem cells inside the soft tissues of the tooth come from an unexpected source, namely nerves. These findings are now being published in the journal Nature and co ...

User comments : 0