New Therapy Prevents Immune Attack after Stem-Cell Transplant

A midstage clinical trial has shown that a new treatment called CD24Fc may be able to prevent graft-versus-host disease (GVHD), a common immune-related complication of bone marrow transplants. Bone marrow transplants are often used to treat blood cancer, but they can also damage the recipient’s healthy stem cells. GVHD occurs when the donor’s immune cells attack the recipient’s tissue. CD24Fc inhibits the immune response at an earlier stage by preventing antigen-presenting cells from activating donor T cells that would attack the patient’s cells. In a trial of 26 patients with blood cancer, only one developed moderate-to-severe GVHD after receiving CD24Fc, compared to 68 patients in a control group who developed GVHD within six months.

The results of the trial were described as “impressive” by Dr. Javier Bolaños Meade, a professor of oncology at Johns Hopkins Medicine. However, after a year, there were no significant differences in overall survival rates, risk of chronic GVHD, or relapse rates between the CD24Fc group and the control group. The treatment caused minimal side effects, but two patients developed a rare-but-serious skin disorder called Stevens-Johnson syndrome. The study had limitations, including its small size and reliance on comparisons to historic data. Despite these limitations, experts anticipate further studies to test the effectiveness of CD24Fc in preventing GVHD.

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