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ASH: Intervention Promising in Graft-Versus-Host Disease

Researchers outline plans to study effects of bactericidal/permeability-increasing protein

WEDNESDAY, Dec. 13 (HealthDay News) -- In patients undergoing stem cell transplantation, the risk of graft-versus-host disease may be reduced by treatment with bactericidal/permeability-increasing protein (BPI), which blocks and neutralizes endotoxin, according to research presented this week at the 48th Annual Meeting of the American Society of Hematology in Orlando.

Ofer Levy, M.D., Ph.D., of Children's Hospital Boston, and colleagues found in a 2003 study of 57 children that blood endotoxin levels rise dramatically within a week of transplantation. At the meeting, they presented results of a new study of 30 patient/donor pairs showing that patients undergoing stem cell transplants also have a sharp decrease in BPI levels as their endotoxin levels are rising, which is associated with an increased risk of graft-versus-host disease.

Because of these findings, Levy and colleagues plan to conduct a small safety trial of BPI in which they gradually increase the dosage and duration of treatment. If BPI is shown to be safe, their next step will be a randomized, controlled trial of BPI in 30 to 40 patients who are undergoing bone marrow transplantation for cancer or blood diseases.

"Replenishing a natural host defense factor that is deficient due to chemotherapy makes theoretical and practical sense, and we hope that bringing our bench work to patients will reduce the complications they suffer," Levy said in a statement.

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