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Wednesday 26th October 2016

Transplant patients' cancer tackled

15th August 2007

A new study has found the injection of white blood cells into transplant patients suffering from cancer could increase survival rates.


The trial, which lasted over seven years, studied 33 transplant patients who had a cancer known as post-transplant lymphoproliferative disease (PTLD).

Transplant patients are particularly vulnerable to PLTD because they have surpressed immune systems. This leaves them open to the Epstein Barr virus (EBV) which is suspected to be the cause of the cancer.

Most healthy people - about 90% of the population - carry EPV, but do not develop cancer.

The team at Edinburgh University injected "killer-T" white blood cells into the 33 patients in order to attack the virus. The cells were donated from people who "had been exposed" to EPV.

14 patients out of 33 went into complete remission from cancer, with tumours in three of the patients shrinking by half or more. However, 16 of the subjects did not respond and five died before the end of the treatment.

Mohammed, aged four, was given the treatment in 2001. His prognosis was extremely poor, so doctors tried out the treatment. He went into complete remission and is now a healthy nine-year-old boy.

His father Kahlid said: "Without this treatment, Mohammed wouldn't be here today. We are delighted to hear that this research has been successful and will now be able to benefit other families like us."

A spokesman for UK Transplant said: "These results are very encouraging...any treatment that helps patients continue to enjoy a healthy life post-transplant is to be welcomed."

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