Understanding which immune cells make GvHD aggressive and resistant to treatment

Lead researcher - Professor Ronjon Chakraverty, University College London
Defining clonal structures of pathogenic T cells in GVHD
Amount awarded: £299,972
Award start date: 15 Jan 2018
Award duration: 2 years, 6 months (30 months)

One of the complications that can result from a stem cell or bone marrow transplant is graft versus host disease (GvHD), which affects around  one in every two patients. In GvHD, the T cells (a type of white blood cell) from the donated stem cells or bone marrow recognise the recipient’s cells as ‘foreign’ and attack them causing skin rashes, diarrhoea and liver damage.

GvHD can often be treated with drugs called steroids, that dampen the immune response. But some people don’t respond to this treatment and can become very unwell or even die.

In some cases of GvHD, parts of the body that are affected may contribute to the illness by making the transplanted cells even more aggressive and resistant to treatment. Professor Ronjon Chakraverty and his team at University College London are investigating why this happens.

Their research should help find better ways of treating GvHD.