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Mechanisms, Prevention and Treatment of Chronic Graft-vs.-Host Disease


Chronic GVHD (cGVHD) is the most important adverse long-term consequence of allogeneic hematopoietic cell transplantation (HCT) and represents the most frequent cause of mortality occurring after 1-2 years from HCT. In previous studies supported by this Program Project, we made the novel observation that donor B cells played a critical role in the pathophysiology of cGVHD. This was demonstrated in patients with cGVHD as well as in murine models and this led us to undertake a series of clinical trials that demonstrated the clinical efficacy of B cell-directed therapy in the treatment and prevention of cGVHD. The overarching goal of this Program Project in this renewal is to identify optimal strategies for the application of B cell-directed therapies for the treatment and prevention of cGVHD. In this collaborative effort, we incorporate novel pivotal multi-center clinical trials, preclinical models of cGVHD to identify more effective B cell targeting strategies for future clinical studies and detailed analysis of patients receiving novel therapies. This is a highly integrated Program Project where the new clinical trials in Project 1 have been informed by previous pre-clinical murine studies in Project 2 and laboratory studies demonstrating the role of B cells in patients with cGVHD in Project 3. Project 1, Targeting B Cells in Chronic Graft-versus-Host Disease Prevention and Treatment, is dedicated to clinical trials of anti-B cell therapy that address the unmet need during three phases of cGVHD: pre-clinical presentation, initial therapy and late stage disease. These trials are the next phase of studies leading from our prior work, and are informed by the preclinical studies of Project 2. Project 2, Preclinical Drug Approaches to Chronic GVHD Prevention and Treatment is dedicated to the identification and testing of new drug and peptide therapies of cGVHD in a robust mouse model of cGVHD associated with fibrosis. Project 3, Humoral Targets and B Cell Biology in Chronic Graft-vs.-Host Disease is dedicated to understanding the immunologic effects of B cell-directed therapies in patients treated on clinical trials in Project 1, and potential mechanisms by which these new treatments alter B cell function in vivo. Novel discovery in Project 3 may lead to new biomarkers of cGVHD. Supported by unique and highly integrated cores, we have the opportunity to build on our previous discoveries and improve outcomes for patients with cGVHD.

Funded by the NIH National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences through its Clinical and Translational Science Awards Program, grant number UL1TR002541.