Treatment could prevent common virus from harming the immunocompromised
AUSTIN, Texas—St. David’s South Austin Medical Center is the only Austin-area facility testing a new drug that could help bone marrow transplant patients avoid a potentially deadly complication.
The treatment, called Maribavir, could help prevent symptoms of the potentially fatal cytomegalovirus (CMV) with less bone marrow suppression than current treatments, which often lead to low white blood cell and platelet counts. Many treatments for CMV in the past have also resulted in harmful side effects for the immunocompromised, including fever, rash, diarrhea, anemia and seizures.
“We are so fortunate to have the opportunity to play a role in the development of this drug,” Dr. Aravind Ramakrishnan, director of the adult bone marrow transplant program at the Sarah Cannon Blood Cancer Center at St. David’s South Austin Medical Center, said. “It represents a significant advancement in the treatment of CMV, and it has the potential to improve survival rates.”
By age 40, over half of adults in the U.S. have contracted CMV but show no signs or symptoms. However, people with compromised immunity are more likely to die or fall ill from a CMV infection through pneumonia, gastroenteritis and retinitis.
St. David’s South Austin Medical Center offers a Very Immunosuppressed Patient (VIP) Care Program, which is this region’s only program focused on promptly identifying and treating immunocompromised oncology patients arriving through the cancer clinic or emergency department. The program provides specialized training to emergency department and clinic staff to identify and address the unique needs of chemotherapy patients. The bone marrow transplant (BMT) program at the Sarah Cannon Blood Cancer Center at St. David’s South Austin Medical Center has a dedicated state-of-the-art BMT transplant unit, including HEPA (high efficiency particulate air) filtration, an outpatient clinic and photopheresis service.
St. David’s South Austin Medical Center
St. David’s South Austin Medical Center, which is part of St. David’s HealthCare, is a 300-bed acute care facility offering a range of complex specialties and sub-specialties, including a nationally accredited oncology program with the area’s only adult bone marrow transplant program; a trauma program that includes a Level II trauma center to treat the most severely injured and critical patients; a comprehensive cardiac program; full-service maternity and newborn care with Level I and II nurseries; and two full-service emergency centers in the communities of Bee Cave and Bastrop.
Tina Shively or Erin Ochoa
Elizabeth Christian Public Relations