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Being Alive

TOWN HALL MEETING: Transferring Cells From Healthy Uninfected People to Sick People


Being Alive 1993 Apr 5: 9

It's like going to your uninfected neighbor and borrowing a cup of T-cells.

Previous experiments tried to transfer the bone marrow from one uninfected identical twin to the other (infected) but it did not work. But what about transferring just the parts that you need? What about just transferring the lymphocytes, the T-cells, T-8s, the T-4 cells? In some of the cases that I've personally seen, the result has been really dramatic. In these two cases, the transfer of lymphocytes was done between identical twins. But who says it has to be an identical twin? Why not use a "partially-matched donor." By that we mean a sibling, a brother, a sister, a mother or a father, someone in the same immediate family. By the mechanical logic of what's called "HLA matching," a sibling will be at least like a one-quarter match.

The conventional wisdom on this is that you'll have graft vs. host disease. But this was done very quietly in '86 in a group of about 20 patients and no evidence of graph vs. host disease was seen in these patients.

There are at least four patients that have been done in the last two months and there hasn't been any problem with any of the first four. That's all I can tell you.

The technology to do it is not complicated at all. It's a question of having the will to do it.Could it be dangerous to somebody? Yes it could. On the other hand we're not going to make any progress with this disease unless people accept a certain amount of risk. We need to raise consciousness about it. We need to make an issue of it with your local hospitals and community advisory boards. 


Information in this article was accurate in April 5, 1993. The state of the art may have changed since the publication date. This material is designed to support, not replace, the relationship that exists between you and your doctor. Always discuss treatment options with a doctor who specializes in treating HIV.