NIH Awards City of Hope $2.2 Million Grant for Investigation of Chronic Graft-vs-Host Disease


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Defu Zeng, MD

The proposed studies will provide new insights into how donor CD4-positive T and B cells interact to induce and perpetuate chronic [graft-vs-host disease], and will lead to the development of novel regimens for prevention and treatment of chronic [graft-vs-host disease].

—Defu Zeng, MD

The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) has awarded a $2.2 million grant to help City of Hope researchers explore the underlying mechanisms of graft-vs-host disease, the leading cause of long-term sickness and death following transplantation of bone marrow cells from a donor.

The grant, awarded to Defu Zeng, MD, Professor of Diabetes Immunology and Hematopoietic Cell Transplantation at the Beckman Research Institute of City of Hope, will be used by researchers to study the interactions of T cells and B cells during the development of graft-vs-host disease.

“If successful, this research will provide new insights into the mechanisms of chronic [graft-vs-host disease] development and may identify targets to prevent autoimmunity,” Dr. Zeng said.

Dr. Zeng is a leader in the field of treating autoimmune diseases through the induction of mixed chimerism, in which donor cells are transplanted into a patient with mild conditioning, such that donor and patient immune cells and blood cells coexist harmoniously without causing graft-vs-host disease. He is also an expert in designing mouse models of chronic graft-vs-host disease that reflect the development of the diseases in humans. Using these mice, Dr. Zeng and his team have shown that disruption of interactions between donor T and B cells can prevent chronic graft-vs-host disease; the grant will allow them to expand on that work.

“The proposed studies will provide new insights into how donor CD4-positive T and B cells interact to induce and perpetuate chronic [graft-vs-host disease], and will lead to the development of novel regimens for prevention and treatment of chronic [graft-vs-host disease],” Dr. Zeng concluded. ■



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