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U-M Bone Marrow Transplant Researcher Receives New Investigator Award

Ann Arbor - Pavan Reddy, M.D., assistant professor of internal medicine at the University Of Michigan Medical School, has received the American Society for Blood and Marrow Transplantation (ASBMT) / ESP Pharma New Investigator award. Reddy, a member of the U-M Comprehensive Cancer Center’s Adult Blood and Marrow Transplant program was recognized for his work on the role of antigen-presenting cells in mediating Graft-Versus-Leukemia (GVL) Effect after experimental allogeneic bone marrow transplantation.

The award, which is renewable in 2005, was announced by ASBMT President Joseph H. Antin. Reddy was chosen from among thirty applicants for his proposed study of graft-versus leukemia (GVL) effect, the most potent form of immune therapy available to treat malignant diseases. But GVL is tightly linked to the most serious complication of allogeneic bone marrow transplant (BMT), graft-versus-host disease (GVHD), and presents a significant challenge for better harnessing this potent therapeutic modality.

Reddy plans to study the role of host antigen-presenting cells (APCs) and pro-inflammatory cytokines in inducing a graft-versus-leukemia (GvL) response after bone marrow transplantation. Techniques of eliminating APCs from the host have been suggested as a way of preventing graft-versus-host disease (GvHD).

To test the impact of eliminating APCs on the GvL effect, Reddy will generate chimeric recipient mice in which APCs cannot present tumor antigens to the donor T-cells. He expects that, in the absence of host APCs, the recipient animals will develop neither a GvL nor a GvHD response.

Reddy also will look at how tumor antigen expression and pro-inflammatory cytokines contribute to the GvL response. Further experiments in chimeric mice will be determine whether foreign antigens must be expressed on both the APCs and tumor cells for an effective GvL response to occur. Some animals will receive treatment to block pro-inflammatory cytokines, to see if this helps to preserve the GvL effect while blocking the GvHD response.

In 2003, Reddy received the Outstanding Young Investigator Award from the Central Society for Clinical Research, recognizing his early achievements in transplantation immunobiology. “It’s great to see Pavan’s promise as an investigator and clinician recognized by such prestigious organizations,” says James Ferrara, M.D., director of the Blood and Marrow Transplant program at the U-Cancer Center. “His work in graft-versus-host disease and graft-versus-leukemia effect is making a difference nationally in advancing the field, and locally with our patients here at the Cancer Center, and we plan to translate his insights into clinical trials as soon as possible for patients here at the Cancer Center.”

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