In a world first, an Australian doctor has completed the first human clinical trial using engineered stem cells to treat an immune disease.
The trial used induced pluripotent stem cells to treat 15 patients in Australia and the UK with an immune disorder called graft versus host disease.
The disease can occur after a bone marrow transplant and, in some cases, can be deadly.
Royal Prince Alfred Hospital head of Cell and Molecular Therapies Professor John Rasko AO said graft versus host patients could develop severe gut symptoms, or in their skin or lungs.
“It’s an immune attack and the cells that I’m now talking about, derived from these reprogrammed cells, are capable of suppressing that kind of an immune response,” he said.
Professor Rasko said the early phase clinical study with a small number of patients, published in Nature Medicine, showed promise.