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Technology Insight: ECP for the treatment of GvHD - Can we offer selective immune control without generalized immunosuppression?

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Scott Marshall


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Hematopoietic stem-cell transplantation remains an important curative therapy for many conditions and its use is increasing annually. Graft-versus-host disease (GvHD) is the major cause of mortality and suffering following allogeneic hematopoietic stem-cell transplantation. Conventional treatments are associated with multiple side effects and are often ineffective. New therapeutic approaches for the control of GvHD are desperately required. Extracorporeal photochemotherapy (ECP) was developed in the 1970s for the treatment of cutaneous T-cell lymphoma and was approved by the FDA as the first selective immunotherapy for a cancer. ECP has also proved an effective therapy for immune-related conditions, particularly GvHD, even in patients refractory to conventional therapies. The treatment involves the mechanical separation of circulating white cells, which are exposed to psoralen and UVA light and then returned to the patient. ECP is extremely well tolerated with minimal side effects and is not associated with the increased rates of infection or relapse of malignant disease typical of conventional immunosuppressive agents. Thus, ECP appears to offer selective immune modulation without generalized immunosuppression, but its mechanism of action remains poorly understood. This review discusses the development of ECP, its use in the treatment of GvHD, as well as current theories of its mechanism of action. © 2006 Nature Publishing Group.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Marshall SR

Publication type: Review

Publication status: Published

Journal: Nature Clinical Practice Oncology

Year: 2006

Volume: 3

Issue: 6

Pages: 302-314

ISSN (print): 1743-4254

ISSN (electronic): 1759-4782


DOI: 10.1038/ncponc0511

PubMed id: 16757968