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An Ideal Combination: Courageous Optimism plus First-Class Medical Care

2 February 2007

Generous donation for stem cell research at Heidelberg's University Hospital

Cancer patient Horst Knauff has expressed his gratitude for the benefits of medical progress with an extremely generous donation of € 10,000. Prompted by the positive results of the treatment he was given following a stem cell transplant, Herr Knauff has dedicated this sum to the Stem Cell Research Support Society and hence to the advancement of top-flight research on blood stem cells at the Department of Internal Medicine V (Haematology, Oncology, Rheumatology) of the Heidelberg University Hospital. "In this way," he said, "I can perhaps help to ensure that in future patients all over the world will be able to benefit from the excellent research being done here in Heidelberg." On 1 February 2007, Professor Dr. Anthony D. Ho, medical director of the Department, and Professor Peter Dreger, head of the Allogeneic Stem Cell Transplantation Section and the physician treating Herr Knauff, were present to receive the donation cheque.

Horst Knauff was lucky, extremely lucky. When at the age of 52 he was diagnosed as suffering from cancer of the lymph glands his survival prospects were anything but rosy. Today, nine years later, he is in good shape and confident that he can look forward to the conclusion of his therapy in the early summer. Perhaps it was the wiry mathematician's unshakable optimism that helped him brave the traumas of his severe illness so courageously. But another decisive factor was certainly the front-edge medical care he was provided with by the physicians at the Department of Haematology, Oncology and Rheumatology of Heidelberg's University Hospital. Headed by Professor Anthony D. Ho, they are experts in the field of blood stem cell transplantation, frequently the only chance of survival for patients with malignancies of the haematopoietic system.

Blood stem cell research has been going on at the Department of Internal Medicine V since 1982. Horst Knauff benefited from a so-called autologous transplant using stem cells taken from the patient himself. These have to be previously "collected" in several stages. Before the transplant, i.e. the return of the stem cells to the patient, comes the actual treatment of the illness with high-dose chemotherapy and/or radiation therapy. Subsequently the stem cell transplant replaces the destroyed bone marrow. The good thing about this method is that toleration problems or rejection reactions are unlikely.

But in autumn 2005 Horst Knauff suffered a new outbreak of the cancer. This time the only recourse was allogeneic blood stem cell transplantation, in which the patient's haematopoietic system is destroyed and subsequently replaced by stem cells from a different healthy donor. Again Horst Knauff was lucky. A suitable donor was found within a relatively short space of time. Once more the treatment was undertaken by the specialists at the Department of Haematology, Oncology and Rheumatology. In the meantime the Heidelberg physicians' long years of experience and the new insights gleaned from their research projects have made it possible to reduce the trauma involved in this extremely taxing therapy. "With lower-dose transplantation we want to make the whole process more 'gentle' for the patient," says Professor Anthony D. Ho. "Treatment toleration is significantly higher and there are fewer complications." Professor Peter Dreger adds: "Horst Knauff has responded very well to the treatment so far. I am confident that in the course of the year we will be able to discontinue the drugs we are giving him to prevent rejection."

Heidelberg University Hospital for Internal Medicine
Department of Haematology, Oncology and Rheumatology
Im Neuenheimer Feld 410
D-69120 Heidelberg
Professor Anthony D. Ho
phone: 06221/568001 (secretary's office)

More information on the Stem Cell Research Support Society
c/o B.L.u.T. e.V. Karlsruhe
phone: 07224/6083-0

Donations requested to
a/c: 30 78 33 28
Volksbank Weingarten-Walzbachtal eG
bank code: 660 617 24

General inquiries from journalists should be addressed to
Dr. Annette Tuffs
Press and Public Relations Officer
Heidelberg University Hospital
Medical Faculty of the University of Heidelberg
Im Neuenheimer Feld 672
phone: 06221/564536
fax: 06221/564544
mobile: 0170/5724725
e-mail :

Dr. Michael Schwarz
Press Officer of the University of Heidelberg
phone: 06221/542310, fax: 54317


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