Nature is publishing new research that aims to prevent life-threatening viral illnesses in immunocompromised transplant patients.
The phase 1 trial, funded by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, one of the National Institutes of Health, tested the first multivirus killer of its kind, called Trivirus-specific cytotoxic T lymphocytes (CTLs), which control infections caused by three commonplace viruses — cytomegalovirus (CMV), Epstein-Barr virus (EBV), and adenovirus. Although benign in people with normal immune systems, the viruses can cause life-threatening illnesses in transplant patients and others with compromised immune systems.
The CTLs proved effective and safe in all 11 bone marrow transplant patients, who recovered completely within two to four weeks of being treated without any side effects or toxicity. Preexisting therapies for adenovirus have had little success — there is an 80 percent chance of death following the development of adenovirus.
“Not only were patients prevented from getting these infections after transplant, but those patients who had infections responded to the T-cell therapy and did not require any other treatment,” said senior author Dr. Catherine Bollard, assistant professor of pediatrics, immunology, and medicine at BCM and a researcher at the Center for Cell and Gene Therapy at BCM, Methodist and Texas Children’s. “To make dramatic recoveries like these was really quite something.”
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