Discovery by Hadassah Researchers to Fight Graft-Vs-Host Disease

Bone Marrow Transplantatation: Graft-Vs.-Host Disease Hadassah Researchers Report: A Fetal Peptide can Improve the Rehabilitation Process


Researchers from the Department of Bone Marrow Transplantation at Hadassah, led by Prof. Reuven Or Head of the Department, discovered that a certain peptide from a fetal source is effective in preventing Graft vs. Host disease (GVHD). Additionally, they report that there is noticeable improvement in the clinical condition after undergoing a bone marrow transplant. These findings are based on research that, until now, has been performed on mice.

This joint research endeavor is being conducted by researchers from Hadassah’s Department of Bone Marrow Transplantation, Yale University and BioIncept, an American based biotechnology company. The findings were published recently in the scientific journal, “Biology of Blood and Bone Marrow Transplantation” (BBMT).

A peptide called a ‘pre-implantation factor’ (PIF) allows the rooting of a fetus in a mother’s uterus. Released by the fetus during the early stages of development, it regulates immune activity. Once released, its lifespan in the bloodstream is estimated to be few moments long only. It is released mainly during the first two trimesters of a pregnancy and its activity affects the division of blood cells and cytokine secretion (small proteins connecting immune system cells with tissue cells). This peptide enables the existence of the pregnancy and prevents the mother’s rejection of the fetus, without harming her immune system.

The research studied the capability of a synthetically-created PIF peptide to influence the regulation of the immune system, thus preventing the development of GVHD after a bone marrow transplant. The PIF peptide greatly reduced GVHD symptoms in mice, especially in relation to the control group. It also reduced the infiltration of diseased cells into various organs such as the liver, skin and colon. Clinical improvement of the mice’s condition was accompanied by a reduction in the levels of inflammatory cytokines in the liver and blood, as well as the reduction in the oxidative stress levels of the liver and colon.

This research joins other studies conducted by the Department of Bone Marrow Transplantation, which demonstrate the effectiveness of the peptide in preventing diabetes and CNS inflammation.

Recently, tests performed in the US have successfully ruled out any poisonous or negative side effects in healthy animals as a result of this peptide treatment. This will allow researchers to take the next step and begin clinical trials on humans.

According to Prof. Reuven Or, Head of the Department of Bone Marrow Transplantation at Hadassah, the results of these studies will be applied in the future to the development of new, innovative treatments of bone marrow transplant complications. “In the next few months, Hadassah researchers will focus on preparing for the upcoming clinical trial and making sure we have all necessary documents and approvals in order to begin.”