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Children's Joins in Recommending Ways to Monitor Graft-Versus-Host Disease

Washington, DC — David A. Jacobsohn, MD, ScM, Chief of the Blood and Marrow Transplantation Division at Children’s National Health System, is the lead author on the first, prospective, longitudinal study that concludes with recommendations in evaluating skin response in chronic graft-versus-host disease (GVHD). The complete study is available through the journal Blood and its first edition papers online site.

GVHD is a fairly common side effect of blood and marrow transplantation (BMT), a therapy used in treating various disorders including leukemia and immunodeficiencies. BMT is also used in treating severe cases of sickle cell disease. The skin is commonly affected in chronic GVHD, which can cause significant morbidity and non-relapse mortality.

"The findings and recommendations from this study will help us follow the progression or improvement of GVHD," said Dr. Jacobsohn. "Finding consistent and reliable measures for use in clinical trials and in clinical monitoring of patients helps us refine treatments for patients for whom blood and marrow transplantation is an important option."

Dr. Jacobsohn and researchers from nine other institutes assessed several instruments and determined that the NIH 0-3 skin score and the Lee skin symptom score are sensitive measures of change in skin GVHD, and that, especially when used together, correlate with clinician and patient perception of skin change and predict major outcomes, including survival. Symptoms of the skin related to GVHD include redness, hardening, constriction of the skin's movement, and severe itchiness. Finding an effective and consistent way to measure the severity and progression of these skin symptoms offers non-invasive ways to monitor the severity and progression of GVHD.

The BMT team at Children's National is the only group in the Washington, DC area fully dedicated to pediatric patients, and treats more children and teens than all other area hospitals combined. Children’s National is a nationally recognized leader in BMT, a therapy used for various disorders, including leukemia, immunodeficiencies, sickle cell disease, and thalassemia.

Contact: Paula Darte or Emily Hartman, Children’s National Public Relations: 202.476.4500.

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