Newcastle Children’s Bone Marrow Transplant Unit discover new treatment

Newcastle’s Children’s Bone Marrow Transplant Unit have discovered a pioneering new treatment to tackle complications that can arise from stem cell transplants.

The new procedure will tackle GVHD, an often fatal complication of stem cell transplantation, when the transplanted cells attack the patient.

The breakthrough came after all typical treatments for GVHD on a child who had a transplant for Severe Combined Immunodeficiency (SCID), had failed. SCID is a condition where children are basically born without an immune system. The condition is fatal and the only effective treatment is a stem cell transplant.

Four year old Kristina Vukolova, from County Cork in Ireland, became the subject of the ground-breaking new procedure. The new treatment uses the patient’s mother’s stem cells even though she was only a half identical tissue type match.

She stayed in what is known as ‘The Bubble Unit’ at the hospital, which uses a sterile ‘bubble’ to protect children from any bugs and bacteria while they are undergoing treatment.

Mum, Jekaterina, 29, spoke about her experiences:

Kristina and her mother Jekaterina Credit: Bubble Foundation

Research at Newcastle’s Children’s Bone Marrow Transplant Unit is supported by charity, The Bubble Foundation, which helps fund the research needed.

Since the charity was founded, survival rates have increased from 50 per cent to around 90 per cent.

Professor Andrew Cant, a world-leading pediatric consultant, said children with immune deficiencies are often a forgotten group: