Suicide Genes Promise New Hope for Life-Saving Transplants

by Bidita Debnath on Oct 24 2013 10:03 PM

 Suicide Genes Promise New Hope for Life-Saving Transplants
For the first time doctors have given kids' life-saving transplants of immune cells, engineered to carry suicide genes in case things go wrong.
3 kids at Great Ormond Street received the transplants that may have been considered too risky without what doctors called a genetic "insurance policy".

The kids needed bone marrow transplants and the doctors had not been able to find a perfect match and a normal transplant had risked life-threatening complications, with donor cells turning against the kids' body, Sky News reported.

So doctors tweaked cells from donors to carry a suicide gene and a unique 'flag' on their outer surface.

At the first sign of complication the doctors would have injected a drug that homed in on the flag, which would have triggered the suicide gene.

The cells would then have been destroyed before causing further damage.

Dr Waseem Qasim, a paediatric immunologist who led the study, said that they were reluctant to use certain donors as the risks of complications after a mismatch transplant are much higher

The technique has been published in the journal PLOS ONE.