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Severe combined immunodeficiency. A model disease for molecular immunology and therapy


* Alain Fischer
Hôpital Necker-Enfants Malades
149 Rue de Sèvres
75015 Paris, France
Tel.: +33 1 44 49 48 22
Fax: +33 1 42 73 06 40


Summary:  Severe combined immunodeficiencies (SCIDs) consist of genetically determined arrest of T-cell differentiation. Ten different molecular defects have now been identified, which all lead to early death in the absence of therapy. Transplantation of allogeneic hematopoietic stem cells (HSCT) can restore T-cell development, thus saving the lives of SCID patients. In this review, the different characteristics of HSCT are discussed along with the available data regarding the long-term outcome. Transient thymopoiesis caused by an exhaustion of donor progenitor cells and possibly a progressive loss of thymus function can lead to a progressive decline in T-cell functions. The preliminary results of gene therapy show the correction of two SCID conditions. Based on the assumption that long-lasting pluripotent progenitor cells are transduced, these data suggest that gene therapy could overcome the long-term recurrence of the T-cell immunodeficiency. SCID is thus a disease model for experimental therapy in the hematopoietic system.