A Stem Cell Transplant Helped Beat Back a Young Doctor’s Cancer. Now, It’s Assaulting His Body.

July 13, 2017

(Science) – Wartman’s condition is severe but not unusual. GVHD affects up to half of the more than 30,000 people worldwide each year who receive an immune system transplanted from a donor, as either bone marrow or peripheral blood stem cells. The number of transplants—and cases of GVHD—are increasing, yet treatments have not kept pace. Steven Pavletic, who heads the Graft-versus-Host and Autoimmunity Section at the National Cancer Institute in Bethesda, Maryland, says the standard treatments—corticosteroids such as prednisone—”carpet bomb” the immune system, causing a host of side effects and weakening the immune response to potentially deadly infections.

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