Dr Andrea Henden – Research Officer, QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute
New shield from disease that kills up to half of bone marrow transplant patients
After bone marrow transplants, new immune cells can attack the gut, causing a disease which is fatal in up to half of affected patients.
“Protecting the gut from graft-versus-host disease is a holy grail in bone marrow transplantation,” Dr Andrea Henden says.
Now, Dr Henden and colleagues at the QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute have discovered a treatment that protects the gut from bone marrow transplant complications.
“By protecting the gut we can make bone marrow transplant safer,” she says.
A cell-communication particle, Interferon Lambda, shields gut stem cells and prevents severe disease. This may also be effective in inflammatory bowel disease.
Dr Kate Gartlan, QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute, says it’s “the first time anyone has identified the way in which Interferon Lambda works on gut stem cells to protect them from damage.”
The next step, says Dr Henden, is clinical trials in humans.
Dr Henden works with colleagues including Dr Kate Gartlan and Professor Geoff Hill