New technology may reduce deadly complication of bone marrow transplants

Researchers led by John F. DiPersio, MD, PhD, at the School of Medicine have designed a way to mitigate graft-versus-host disease, a common and often life-threatening complication of bone marrow transplants that are used to treat leukemia and other blood cancers. The method also employs a molecular imaging tool to help doctors identify patients most likely to develop this dangerous condition.

Personalized melanoma vaccines marshal powerful immune response

Personalized melanoma vaccines can be used to marshal a powerful immune response against unique mutations in patients’ tumors, according to early data in a first-in-people clinical trial at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. The research is a boost to cancer immunotherapy, a treatment strategy that unleashes the immune system to seek out and destroy cancer.

Unanue receives lifetime achievement award

Emil Unanue, MD, the Paul and Ellen Lacy Professor of Pathology and Immunology, has received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Association of Immunologists. The award is the organization’s highest honor.

Investigational cancer drugs unintentionally may result in tumor growth

School of Medicine researchers studying how cancer spreads into bone have made a surprising discovery that suggests several investigational anti-cancer therapies just entering the drug-development pipeline may not have the desired effect. The study indicates that the drugs inadvertently may promote cancer.

Timing, duration of biochemical bugle call critical for fighting viruses

Researchers have identified the primary player of the biochemical bugle call that musters the body’s defenders against viral infection. Scientists at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis have shown that a key molecule, MDA5, is essential for producing enough interferon (the bugle call) to rally virus-fighting cells during certain viral infections.

Late-stage sepsis suppresses immune system

Patients who die from sepsis are likely to have had suppressed immune systems that left them unable to fight infections, researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis have shown. The findings suggest that therapies to rev up the immune response may help save the lives of some patients with the disorder.

‘Leash’ protein may help keep B cells from attacking body tissue

B cellsScientists at the School of Medicine have identified a protein that can reduce the chances immune B cells will erroneously attack the body’s own tissues, causing autoimmune disorders like lupus, allergies, arthritis and diabetes. The protein is the first of its kind to be identified in B cells and could provide scientists with a new target for treating such conditions.