More MS news articles for August
Lupus patients are in remission two years
after high-dose chemotherapy and stem-cell transplantation
EMBARGOED FOR RELEASE: 24 AUGUST 2000 AT 16:00 ET US
Contact: Elizabeth Crown
CHICAGO --- A combination of high-dose chemotherapy and stem-cell transplantation
could be an effective treatment for severe lupus, a serious autoimmune
disorder affecting thousands of young and middle- aged people yearly, most
of them female.
As reported in the Aug. 25 issue of The Lancet, Ann Traynor, M.D.,
and colleagues from Northwestern University Medical School evaluated the
safety and efficacy of high-dose immune suppression and stem-cell transplantation
in patients with lupus.
The researchers found that, at an average follow-up of two years after
treatment, all patients were free from signs of active lupus, and their
kidney, heart, lung and immune system function had become normal.
Stem cells are "mother cells," or progenitors, that have the capacity
to expand and differentiate into many types of cells, including infection-fighting
T and B cells.
From 1996, the researchers selected seven patients with aggressive
lupus that persisted despite the use of cyclophosphamide, a potent
The patients underwent high-dose immune suppression and received infusions
of stem cells that they had donated before receiving immunosuppressive
therapy. The patients' circulating white blood cells were analyzed before
and after transplantation.
"What is exciting about this observation is that it appears that the
immune system can correct its errors if early stem cells are allowed to
mature as naive cells in a 'neutral' environment," Traynor said.
"This new generation of immune cells is not destined to repeat the
ruinous errors of the prior generations. Our observation may have implications
for the treatment of many immune disorders, including multiple sclerosis,
myasthenia gravis, and even some types of cancers," Traynor said.
Several hundred thousand individuals in the United States have lupus;
between 10 percent and 15 percent of these patients are expected to die
within 10 years of diagnosis.
Lupus is an autoimmune inflammatory disease that results when disease-
fighting cells in the body create antibodies directed against its own cells
and tissues. The immune cells attack the individual's own organs in the
manner that immune cells normally reject only foreign organisms, tumors
This process can lead to destruction of the normal kidney, heart, brain,
spine and lung tissue. When uncontrolled, it can lead to death.
Current therapies for lupus include steroids and immunosuppressive
medications including chemotherapy. Patients with lupus who experience
persistent multi-organ dysfunction despite standard doses of
intravenous cyclophosphamide represent a subset at high risk for early
Traynor is an assistant professor of medicine at Northwestern University
Medical School and a physician/researcher in the bone marrow transplantation
program at Northwestern Memorial Hospital. Her co- authors at Northwestern
were James Schroeder, M.D., assistant professor of medicine; Robert M.
Rosa, M.D., professor of medicine; Dong Cheng; Jakub Stefka; Salim Majais;
Steven Baker, M.D., assistant professor of medicine; and Richard K. Burt,
M.D., assistant professor of medicine and director of the allogeneic bone
marrow transplantation program at Northwestern Memorial Hospital. Traynor
and Burt also are members of The Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center