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
Wikipedia image

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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Sickle Cell Disease Potentially Cured with Nonmyeloablative HLA-Matched Allogeneic Stem Cell Transplantation

John F. Tisdale, Interview with:
Dr. John Tisdale MD
Molecular and Clinical Hematology Branch
National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases,
National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, Bethesda, Maryland

MedicalResearch: What are the main findings of the study?

Dr. Tisdale: Using a nonmyeloablative allogeneic HLA-match peripheral blood stem cell transplantation strategy aimed at tolerance induction, we were able to revert the phenotype in 26 of 30 adult patients with severe sickle cell disease ranging in age from 16 to 65 years. In contrast to standard transplantation strategies which rely on high doses of chemo and/or radiotherapy after which the entire bone marrow and blood system is replaced by that of the donor, our patients had a mixture of their own and that of their donor. This procedure was well tolerated, with no non-relapse mortality, and led to complete replacement of red blood cells by that of the donor in successfully engrafted patients. This replacement resulted in decreases in pain, pain medication usage, hospitalizations, and improvements in organ function.

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