Medical News

stem cells are starting to prove their value as medical treatments

THIRTY years ago a young haematologist called Richard Burt was training at Johns Hopkins University, in Baltimore. He noticed that after leukaemia patients had received a treatment to wipe out their immune systems, they needed to be re-immunised against diseases such as measles and mumps. Although the patients in question had been vaccinated as children, the therapy for their blood cancer had erased this cellular memory. Dr Burt turned to his teacher, William Burns, and ask whether the same might be possible in autoimmune diseases. “I could see a light go on in his eyes. ‘You should try it in multiple sclerosis’ he said.” Thus began decades of painstaking work.

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