Stem Cell Transplantation Offers Hope For Severe Scleroderma Interview with:

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Picture of a female patient’s left arm, showing skin lesions caused by Scleroderma
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Keith M. Sullivan, M.D.
James B. Wyngaarden Professor Of Medicine
Division of Cellular Therapy
Duke University Medical Center
Durham, North Carolina 27710, USA What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

  • Scleroderma with internal organ involvement is a devastating  autoimmune disorder with considerable morbidity and high mortality which have not changed in 40 years of reporting. Effective new therapies are needed.
  • Despite 2 prior randomized trials showing benefit for reduced-intensity stem cell transplant vs. conventional cyclophosphamide immune suppression, clinical practice in the US did not change due in part due to concern about patient safety and durability of response (attached).
  • The current randomized trial compares 12 monthly infusions of cyclophosphamide with high-dose chemotherapy plus whole-body irradiation designed to wipe-out (myeloablate) the defective, self-reactive immune system and replace with the patients own stem cells which had been treated to remove self-reacting lymphocytes. This was the first study to test if myeloablative autologous could re-establish a normal functioning immune system in patients with scleroderma.

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