GVHD is a frequent and sometimes serious complication of bone marrow and stem cell transplants, which are used to treat some cancers of the blood and immune system.
GVHD symptoms can range from a mild rash to serious and life-threatening damage to the skin and internal organs. The condition occurs when transplanted immune cells from a donor react against the tissue of a transplant recipient.
Decades of research at Fred Hutch have led to new approaches that can lower the risk of GVHD and decrease its severity. Yet despite these advances, nearly 60 percent of transplant recipients still face GVHD. About 20 to 30 percent of these cases are serious enough to endanger survival or cause lasting disability.
Today, transplants are still the best option for many patients, but they still carry strong risks. Fred Hutch is working to make them safer and more effective.