FEB 12, 2017 06:46 AM PST

New Test Predicts Graft-Versus-Host Disease Outcome and Survival

WRITTEN BY: Xuan Pham

It’s tragically ironic that in medicine, sometimes the cure is almost as harmful as the poison. This is the case for bone marrow transplant, which could have the nearly same chance of saving a patient as it does harming the patient. To minimize the risks and guide the decision process, scientists at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine developed an algorithm that’s smart enough to predict the outcome of this procedure for each patient.

Dubbed the “MAGIC algorithm” (Mount Sinai Acute GVHD International Consortium algorithm), this tool measures the concentrations of the proteins ST2 and REG3A. Abnormal presence of these proteins can signal the oncoming of graft-versus-host disease (GVHD) weeks before symptoms occur. In GVHD, the patient’s body recognizes the transplanted bone marrow as foreign and begins to attack, causing life-threatening complications. Knowing if this scenario will play out should give doctors more time to react and possibly prevent full-blown GVHD cases.

"The MAGIC algorithm gives doctors a roadmap to save many lives in the future. This simple blood test can determine which bone marrow transplant patients are at high risk for a lethal complication before it occurs," said Dr. James L.M. Ferrara, Professor at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, and Co-director of MAGIC. "It will allow early intervention and potentially save many lives."

The algorithm was developed after analyzing nearly 1,300 bone marrow transplant samples from 11 hospital centers. With this extensive sample, the team found that presence of two key proteins predicted the likelihood of a patient developing lethal GVHD.

"This test will make bone marrow transplant safer and more effective for patients because it will guide adjustment of medications to protect against graft-versus-host disease," said Dr. John Levine, Professor at The Tisch Cancer Institute at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai and Co-director of MAGIC. "If successful, the early use of the drugs would become a standard of care for bone marrow transplant patients."

Of note, a bone marrow transplant is a procedure that replaces a patient’s diseased blood stem cells with healthy ones from a matched donor. There are several conditions that warrant a bone marrow transplant. These often involve blood disorders, such as cancer of the blood (leukemia), sickle cell anemia, or thalassemia. In some instances, chemotherapy or radiation treatment can damage the bone marrow, necessitating a transplant.

Additional sources: The Mount Sinai Hospital

 

About the Author
  • I am a human geneticist, passionate about telling stories to make science more engaging and approachable. Find more of my writing at the Hopkins BioMedical Odyssey blog and at TheGeneTwist.com.
You May Also Like
JUL 17, 2018
Cancer
JUL 17, 2018
New Small Cell Lung Cancer Subtype Identified
A new subtype of small cell lung cancer is reported to account for potentially 20% of small cell lung cancers diagnosed; it has unique molecular biomarkers and regulatory mechanisms....
AUG 14, 2018
Cancer
AUG 14, 2018
Can Zika Virus Help Neuroblastoma Patients?
Researchers in Florida published the potential for Zika virus to help in the treatment of Neuroblastoma in patients of all ages....
SEP 26, 2018
Videos
SEP 26, 2018
Cancer Immunotherapy
Video illustration about how tumor cells are sensed and destroyed by the immune system and how tumors evolve and detect immune-mediated eliminations, as well as iimmunotherapies associated....
OCT 25, 2018
Health & Medicine
OCT 25, 2018
Sedentary Lifestyle More Deadly Than Smoking
A number of recent studies have found that first cardiovascular associations with regular high-intensity exercise. These studies......
NOV 23, 2018
Health & Medicine
NOV 23, 2018
Fatty NK Cells Can't Target Cancer
Scientists have found yet another link between obesity and cancer. Obesity has long been known to increase the risk of coronary heart disease, stroke, type...
NOV 24, 2018
Drug Discovery
NOV 24, 2018
New Anti-Malarial Drug Target in Cancer
For decades, anti-malaria drugs--known as Chloroquines, have used to treat cancer. But the role in repurposing these drugs for slowing tumor growth have ne...
Loading Comments...