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April 1, 1983

Mismatched marrow grafts succeed thanks to two anti-T-cell agents

JAMA. 1983;249(13):1687-1689. doi:10.1001/jama.1983.03330370003001

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The A. he patient died, but—the old story—the therapy was a success. Indeed, an Associated Press story heralded the treatment as a major medical break-through. The story, which hit newsstands across the nation on February 15, began hyperbolically, "For the first time, doctors have cured a deadly assault on the body's immune system, saving the life of a week-old baby with an experimental treatment called monoclonal antibodies."

The article was referring to the treatment of Bryan Ahlers, who during surgery to repair a heart defect three days after his birth at Children's Hospital, Buffalo, NY, was given a routine blood transfusion. When rash, fever, diarrhea, and ascites developed, immunologist Byung H. Park, MD, recognized the classic symptoms of graft v host disease (GVHD). This seemed an unlikely response until physicians discovered that Bryan had no thymus. With no mature T lymphocytes of his own, the lymphocytes in the transfused blood