Researchers from the University of Liverpool are part of a European research consortium that will test a new approach to treating Graft versus Host Disease (GvHD), a severe condition that occurs following bone marrow transplantation.
GvHD can be a serious complication, which happens when the donor’s immune cells ‘attack’ the tissues of the patient – the skin, internal organs and mucosa.
It occurs in about 30 to 50% of patients undergoing bone marrow transplantation. Current treatment can produce serious side effects for patients, including immunodeficiency, myopathy and osteonecrosis.
TREGeneration is a £4.5 million research project, funded by the European Commission Horizon 2020 programme, which will test a cell-based therapeutic approach to treat GvHD involving five parallel clinical trials.
Patients will be treated with a particular blood cell population obtained from the original bone marrow donor. These cells have the capacity to suppress (regulatory T cells).
The data generated by the different clinical trials will be analysed by experts from the Department of Biostatistics at the University of Liverpool.
Dr Marta García-Fiñana, a University Reader in Biostatistics, said: “This project brings together researchers from across Europe to test out a possible new treatment for GvHD which affects about one third of patients surviving beyond 100 days and is the main cause of mortality in long-term stem cell transplantation survivors.
“The data generated from the five individual trials will help to identify the safe dose to be administered and to generate preliminary efficacy data.
“Here at Liverpool, we will use multivariate modelling techniques to identify clinical and biological predictors of response to therapy; and we will feed the findings into the project partners to assess the potential of this new treatment”
The TREGeneration consortium is led by the Institute of Molecular Medicine in Lisbon, Portugal. Clinical trials will be independently run at the following four sites: Hospital de Santa Maria in Lisbon; Universitaetsklinik in Germany; Laboratory of Cell and Gene Therapy in Belgium; University Hospital S.Orsola-Malpighi in Italy.
The consortium also includes the Max Planck Institute for Molecular Genetic, Alacris Theranostics and GABO:mi mbH & Co. KG.