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Breakthrough brings hopes to cancer, HIV treatment
Updated: 2005-08-11 11:47

Australian scientists have developed a new technique to improve the immune system, bringing new hopes to treatment of cancer and HIV cases.

The Australian Associated Press on Wednesday quoted immunologist Richard Boyd as saying that the technique involves giving patients a constant dose of a naturally-occurring hormone, known as Leuteinizing Hormone-Releasing Hormone (LHRH), via a slow-release implant under the skin.

The process will inhibit the manufacture of sex steroids and revitalize a gland in the body known as the thymus, which is responsible for the production of cells important to the immune response, known as T cells.

The thymus all but shuts down after puberty.

The discovery may also help reduce the risk of rejection in transplant patients.

Boyd believed the donated organ will be better tolerated by rebuilding the immune system with LHRH before a transplant and then adding blood stem cells from the donor to a patient's thymus.

Early results from a pilot trial of 100 bone marrow transplant patients in Melbourne, capital of Victoria, comparing the new technique with a control group, were "looking very good," Boyd said.

"We're finding good evidence that the technique is working," he said.

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