GRAFT-VS-HOST DISEASE

U-M scientists identified a key biomarker of GVHD of the GI tract, shown here in brown in this image of the intestine.

Chronic GVHD Clinic Offers New Hope

A multidisciplinary approach to evaluating, treating and researching serious complication of bone and marrow transplant.

issue 14 | winter 2012

About 50 percent of blood and marrow transplant patients develop some form of chronic graft-versus-host disease (GVHD). Chronic GVHD typically develops within the first year post-transplant, but the disease can continue for years. Some of the most common manifestations include skin rashes, dry mouth and irritated eyes. Some patients can become quite debilitated when organs such as the lungs are affected.

U-M has recently launched a new comprehensive chronic GVHD clinic offering patients and their families new options and hope.

"This is a survivorship clinic," says Carrie Kitko, M.D., assistant professor in pediatrics and communicable diseases. "Our goal is to restore normalcy for adults and children with chronic GVHD so they can go back to work or school and live normal lives again."

The clinic offers patients a comprehensive evaluation, discussion of potential treatment options and access to clinical trials based upon the clinic's research. Because this potentially fatal disease can target just about any area of the body, almost all fields of medicine are part of the clinic.

"This allows us to offer a multidisciplinary approach to treatment that gives patients individualized care designed specifically for them and their symptoms," says Daniel Couriel, M.D., professor of internal medicine and clinical director of the adult blood and marrow transplant program.

Among several innovative GVHD treatments, U-M physicians have extensive experience using extracorporeal photopheresis (ECP). The University of Michigan's ECP program is one of the largest in the country and performs more than 150 treatments on affected patients every month.