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    • CommentAuthorKosmopolit
    • CommentTimeJan 25th 2008
     (631.1)
    http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2008/01/24/2146032.htm

    Transplant patients and immune disease sufferers have received new hope from a 15-year-old Sydney girl hailed as a "one-in-six-billion miracle" when her body took on her liver donor's immune system.

    Doctors at Sydney's Westmead Children's Hospital say Demi-Lee Brennan has achieved "the holy grail of transplants" in the only known case of its kind.

    Miss Brennan no longer has to take toxic anti-rejection drugs, which transplant patients need to consume for the rest of their lives to stop an internal fight between their new organ and their immune system.

    The drugs, known as immunosuppresants, can have toxic effects on organs and cause severe infections.

    Miss Brennan had an urgent transplant after a virus caused her liver to fail, potentially fatally, when she was nine years old.

    But she became very ill nine months later, suffering pneumolysis - a breakdown of the red blood cells.

    When tests came back, her doctors were astonished to find the girl's blood group had changed from O-negative, the same as her parents, to the donor's blood type of O-positive.

    Further tests revealed stem cells from the donor liver had penetrated Miss Brennan's bone marrow - a phenomenon her doctors have described as a natural bone marrow transplant.

    They say they were even more surprised when they found the girl's immune system had been almost totally replaced.

    Children's Hospital head of haematology Dr Julie Curtin says Miss Brennan's few residual immune cells, or white blood cells, had started breaking down her new O-positive red blood cells.
  1.  (631.2)
    that's incredible.
    •  
      CommentAuthorAriana
    • CommentTimeJan 25th 2008
     (631.3)
    Holyshit, wow. Wow.
  2.  (631.4)
    Fucking hell. How? I assume there will now be a whole field of study into how this can be replicated?
    • CommentAuthorharchangel
    • CommentTimeJan 25th 2008
     (631.5)
    That is.....astonishing....wow
  3.  (631.6)
    the end of all disease? find the one person who has immunity beyond measure, clone his liver and ta-daa! everyone can be fixed.

    one day...
    • CommentAuthorKosmopolit
    • CommentTimeJan 25th 2008
     (631.7)
    Offtandiscord, at a minimum it could be an end to all autoimmune disease.

    Off course, the girl did nearly die.
    • CommentAuthorHarvey
    • CommentTimeJan 25th 2008
     (631.8)
    The case was originally published in the New England Journal in Medicine, with two other cases of kidney transplants that were treated with blood-cell forming stem cells who also didn't need any immunosuppressants, and the theory appears to be the orginal immunosuppressant drugs she was on after transplantation along with the original viral infection suppressed her immune system enough to allow stem cells from the donor liver to get in.

    Two interesting points from this i didn't notice in the newspaper article:

    1. Her red blood cells, along with the donor blood type also carry his sex chromosome ie they're male
    2. She's now a chimera - officially a Genetically Modified Organism
    •  
      CommentAuthorhyim
    • CommentTimeJan 25th 2008
     (631.9)
    ok i have my jaw to pick up from the floor now
    •  
      CommentAuthorroque
    • CommentTimeJan 25th 2008
     (631.10)
    holy living fuck, that's amazing.
    •  
      CommentAuthorhyim
    • CommentTimeJan 25th 2008 edited
     (631.11)
    1. Her red blood cells, along with the donor blood type also carry his sex chromosome ie they're male

    harvey : you meant white cells, right, red blood cells don't have a nucleus.
    • CommentAuthorHarvey
    • CommentTimeJan 25th 2008
     (631.12)
    @ hyim

    Ah yes, er, well spotted, white blood cells it is '
    *hangs head*
    • CommentAuthorthefinn
    • CommentTimeJan 25th 2008
     (631.13)
    At the risk of making like an echo... wow.
    •  
      CommentAuthoroldhat
    • CommentTimeJan 25th 2008
     (631.14)
    Wow. Just...wow.
  4.  (631.15)
    Also - 'pneumolysis' is the wrong phrase - it's Haemolysis that is the breakdown of red blood cells. Pneumolysis is an apparent nonsense word as far as I know.

    What I would like to know is why the immuno-suppressant drugs killed her own stem cells without touching the donor cells. Is there something unusual about the donor's stem cells that make this possible, or is it something that any stem cell can do under the right circumstances.
  5.  (631.16)
    @hyim
    1. Her red blood cells, along with the donor blood type also carry his sex chromosome ie they're male

    harvey : you meant white cells, right, red blood cells don't have a nucleus.

    You meant mature red blood cells don't have a nucleus, right? You can see nucleated RBCs on a blood smear, but they are usually immature.
    •  
      CommentAuthorAlan Tyson
    • CommentTimeJan 25th 2008
     (631.17)
    This is amazing. But it raises a question: people have had liver transplants plenty of times before, and they didn't swap immune systems. What was different about this case?
  6.  (631.18)
    What was different about this case?

    Good question. And the answer will get someone notoriety, money, but more importantly, it will save people's lives.
  7.  (631.19)
    Artemis - stem cells from the liver's donor penetrated her bone marrow and - as far as I could understand with no medical training - transformed her immune system into her donor's, almost completely.

    My question: how do her other organs react to this?
    • CommentAuthorsacredchao
    • CommentTimeJan 25th 2008
     (631.20)
    Science wins again! Yay!