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New marrow transplant method developed at Stanford may eliminate fatal side effects

session in which he reviews the checkered history of regulatory T cells. For years immunologists were polarized into groups who believed in the cells, once known as suppressor T cells, and those who doubted their existence. But with the development of more advanced techniques for distinguishing between the different types of immune system cells, the existence of the regulatory T cells has been confirmed. The latest research suggests that the regulatory T cells act as the immune system's peacekeepers, signaling to other T cells when to hold off from attacking an intruder.

"The news going into this meeting is that the field of regulatory T cells has not only come out of the clouded period that it was in, but is now being accepted and adapted into clinical trials as a conceptual framework for achieving certain desirable outcomes, for example in the area of bone marrow transplantation," said Strober.

Always a proponent of the existence of regulatory T cells, Strober worked out over the years a strategy using irradiation and antibodies to increase the relative amount of regulatory T cells in the immune tissues of host mice from about 1 percent of the total T cells to more than 90 percent. By increasing the relative amount of these cells, he found that he could retain the desired effect of killing cancerous cells following bone marrow transplantation, but eliminate the attack on host tissues. "It allows you to throw out the one effect but not the other," he said.

Lowsky said he and Strober have now taken Strober's animal model and translated it to the clinical setting for people. Although they have not yet gathered conclusive evidence that this cellular process worked the same in humans as it did in mice-that would require doing direct examinations of cells from patients' spleens or lymph nodes-Lowsky said their evaluations of the blood and marrow samples suggest that is the case.

Now that the method is proving to be a viable th
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6-Dec-2004


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