Knocking out SHIP gene improves success of allogeneic bone marrow transplants in mice

uch as the SHIP gene, would give us a novel and more selective approach for preventing and treating graft-versus-host disease." said Karen Fields MD, professor of medicine and oncology at USF and director of the Bone Marrow Transplant Program at Moffitt Cancer Center.

While graft-versus-host disease is largely treatable, the immunosuppressive drugs administered for it create serious side effects for patients. In fact, graft-versus-host disease and its consequences remain the number one cause of death following transplant.

Bone marrow transplant rejection is rare when the person donating the bone marrow or stem cells is a genetically matched family member, most often a sibling. However, the chances of rejection increase if the donor is unrelated to the patient and the tissue is incompletely matched. Despite the increasing number of bone marrow transplants performed, more than 75 percent of patients who need an allogeneic transplant each year go without one because a suitable bone marrow cannot be found.

The pool of available donors would increase significantly if Dr. Kerr's SHIP gene finding holds true in humans, because less well-matched grafts could be tolerated as transplants, Dr. Fields said.

Widely used in the treatment of blood cell cancers, bone marrow transplants from healthy donors help restore the cancer patient's blood system following its destruction by chemotherapy and radiation. The immune cells in these transplants may also attack lingering cancer cells that remain in the body following chemotherapy and radiation, thereby increasing the patient's chances for disease-free survival.


Contact: Anne DeLotto Baier
University of South Florida Health

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