Expanded Access Protocol Thymus Transplantation


The primary purpose is to provide access of thymus tissue transplantation to patients who have immunodeficiency, hematologic malignancies, or severe autoimmune disease related to poor thymic function. With no thymus function, bone marrow stem cells do not develop into educated T cells, which fight infection.

Eligible participants undergo thymus transplantation and may undergo biopsy. Immune suppression may be given depending on the immune status and clinical condition of the participant. Immune function testing is continued for one year post-transplantation.

Full Title of Study: “Expanded Access Protocol Thymus Transplantation for Immunodeficiency, Hematologic Malignancies, and Autoimmune Disease Related to Poor Thymic Function”

Study Type

  • Study Type: Expanded Access

Detailed Description

The patients enrolled have a high likelihood of death if they do not receive a thymus transplant because of lack of thymus function. As there are many types of patients who may be enrolled, study results will not have statistical significance. The study objective is to make thymus transplantation available on an expanded access basis. Data will be collected on survival, naïve T cell development, T cell chimerism, and transplant related toxicities, as well as any unexpected study related serious adverse events. Patients undergo thymus transplantation and may undergo allograft biopsy. Immune suppression may be given depending on the immune status and clinical condition. Protocol specified studies continue until approximately one year post-transplantation. Study participation lasts approximately two years or until asked to participate in a long-term follow-up protocol.


  • Biological: Thymus Transplantation
    • Subjects receive thymus transplantation. Subjects may receive pre and/or post-transplantation immunosuppression. Potential thymus recipient subjects are screened for eligibility. Thymus tissue (unrelated donor), donor, & donor’s mother screened for safety. Thymus transplantation is done under general anesthesia in the operating room. Thymus tissue is transplanted into the subject’s quadriceps. Two to three months post-transplantation, if medically stable, the subject undergoes allograft biopsy. At the time of transplantation and biopsy, skin biopsy conducted. Subjects undergo laboratory testing for approximately one year post-transplantation. At year 2 post-transplantation, subjects are contacted for data collection.
  • Procedure: Blood Draw
    • Biological Parent of Thymus Recipients may be asked to participate in the study and undergo phlebotomy to allow for testing of T cell identity in the thymus recipient subjects. If blood is not obtainable, then a buccal swab may be done.
  • Drug: Rabbit Anti-Thymocyte Globulin and Cyclosporine or Tacrolimus
    • RATGAM and Cyclosporine or Tacrolimus may be given, depending on the patient. The doses, timing, and trough levels will vary depending on the patient’s clinical condition.

Participating in This Clinical Trial

Inclusion Criteria

  • an immunodeficiency, malignancy, or severe autoimmunity for which development of naïve T cells would be expected to lead to lead to clinical improvement.
  • written consent (or consent of parent/legal guardian as applicable) review of medical testing, laboratory studies, and physical examinations are used to to determine whether the patient is clinically stable and will potentially benefit from thymus transplantation. Each participant is reviewed with the Data Safety and Monitoring Board (DSMB).

Exclusion Criteria

  • Unrepaired cyanotic congenital heart disease
  • Uncontrolled infections. "Uncontrolled" defined as requiring a ventilator, dialysis, or vasopressor support or anticipated as requiring such support within 6 months.
  • Pregnancy
  • For females of child-bearing potential, a serum pregnancy test is done after consent, at the same time another blood draw is done if possible.
  • Females of child-bearing potential must agree to contraceptive measures as indicated in the consent form.
  • A second serum pregnancy test is done within 48 hours prior to administration of study interventions involving FDA pregnancy class D drugs, chemotherapy drugs, or other drugs or interventions known to pose risks to a potential fetus.
  • Test positive for HIV

Gender Eligibility: All

Minimum Age: N/A

Maximum Age: N/A

Investigator Details

  • Lead Sponsor
    • M. Louise Markert
  • Collaborator
    • Enzyvant Therapeutics GmbH
  • Provider of Information About this Clinical Study
    • Sponsor-Investigator: M. Louise Markert, Professor of Pediatrics – Duke University
  • Overall Official(s)
    • M. Louise Markert, M.D., Ph.D, Principal Investigator, Duke University Medical Center, Pediatrics, Allergy & Immunology
  • Overall Contact(s)
    • M. Louise Markert, M.D., Ph.D, 919-684-6263, marke001@mc.duke.edu


Markert ML, Devlin BH, Alexieff MJ, Li J, McCarthy EA, Gupton SE, Chinn IK, Hale LP, Kepler TB, He M, Sarzotti M, Skinner MA, Rice HE, Hoehner JC. Review of 54 patients with complete DiGeorge anomaly enrolled in protocols for thymus transplantation: outcome of 44 consecutive transplants. Blood. 2007 May 15;109(10):4539-47. Epub 2007 Feb 6.

Markert ML, Devlin BH, McCarthy EA. Thymus transplantation. Clin Immunol. 2010 May;135(2):236-46. doi: 10.1016/j.clim.2010.02.007. Epub 2010 Mar 16. Review.

Markert ML, Alexieff MJ, Li J, Sarzotti M, Ozaki DA, Devlin BH, Sedlak DA, Sempowski GD, Hale LP, Rice HE, Mahaffey SM, Skinner MA. Postnatal thymus transplantation with immunosuppression as treatment for DiGeorge syndrome. Blood. 2004 Oct 15;104(8):2574-81. Epub 2004 Apr 20.

Selim MA, Markert ML, Burchette JL, Herman CM, Turner JW. The cutaneous manifestations of atypical complete DiGeorge syndrome: a histopathologic and immunohistochemical study. J Cutan Pathol. 2008 Apr;35(4):380-5. doi: 10.1111/j.1600-0560.2007.00816.x.

Chinn IK, Devlin BH, Li YJ, Markert ML. Long-term tolerance to allogeneic thymus transplants in complete DiGeorge anomaly. Clin Immunol. 2008 Mar;126(3):277-81. Epub 2007 Dec 26.

Markert ML, Li J, Devlin BH, Hoehner JC, Rice HE, Skinner MA, Li YJ, Hale LP. Use of allograft biopsies to assess thymopoiesis after thymus transplantation. J Immunol. 2008 May 1;180(9):6354-64.

Hudson LL, Louise Markert M, Devlin BH, Haynes BF, Sempowski GD. Human T cell reconstitution in DiGeorge syndrome and HIV-1 infection. Semin Immunol. 2007 Oct;19(5):297-309. Epub 2007 Nov 26. Review.

Markert ML, Devlin BH, Chinn IK, McCarthy EA. Thymus transplantation in complete DiGeorge anomaly. Immunol Res. 2009;44(1-3):61-70. doi: 10.1007/s12026-008-8082-5.

Markert ML, Alexieff MJ, Li J, Sarzotti M, Ozaki DA, Devlin BH, Sempowski GD, Rhein ME, Szabolcs P, Hale LP, Buckley RH, Coyne KE, Rice HE, Mahaffey SM, Skinner MA. Complete DiGeorge syndrome: development of rash, lymphadenopathy, and oligoclonal T cells in 5 cases. J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2004 Apr;113(4):734-41.

Markert ML, Devlin BH, McCarthy EA, Chinn IK, Hale LP. Thymus Transplantation in Thymus Gland Pathology: Clinical, Diagnostic, and Therapeutic Features. Eds Lavinin C, Moran CA, Morandi U, Schoenhuber R. Springer-Verlag Italia, Milan, 2008, pp 255-267.

Markert ML and Devlin BH. Thymic reconstitution (in Rich RR, Shearer WT, Fleischer T, Schroeder HW, Weyand CM, Frew A, eds., Clinical Immunology 3rd edn., Elsevier, Edinburgh) p 1253-1262, 2008.

Markert ML, Sarzotti M, Ozaki DA, Sempowski GD, Rhein ME, Hale LP, Le Deist F, Alexieff MJ, Li J, Hauser ER, Haynes BF, Rice HE, Skinner MA, Mahaffey SM, Jaggers J, Stein LD, Mill MR. Thymus transplantation in complete DiGeorge syndrome: immunologic and safety evaluations in 12 patients. Blood. 2003 Aug 1;102(3):1121-30. Epub 2003 Apr 17.

Chinn IK, Olson JA, Skinner MA, McCarthy EA, Gupton SE, Chen DF, Bonilla FA, Roberts RL, Kanariou MG, Devlin BH, Markert ML. Mechanisms of tolerance to parental parathyroid tissue when combined with human allogeneic thymus transplantation. J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2010 Oct;126(4):814-820.e8. doi: 10.1016/j.jaci.2010.07.016. Epub 2010 Sep 15.

Markert ML, Marques JG, Neven B, Devlin BH, McCarthy EA, Chinn IK, Albuquerque AS, Silva SL, Pignata C, de Saint Basile G, Victorino RM, Picard C, Debre M, Mahlaoui N, Fischer A, Sousa AE. First use of thymus transplantation therapy for FOXN1 deficiency (nude/SCID): a report of 2 cases. Blood. 2011 Jan 13;117(2):688-96. doi: 10.1182/blood-2010-06-292490. Epub 2010 Oct 26.

Li B, Li J, Devlin BH, Markert ML. Thymic microenvironment reconstitution after postnatal human thymus transplantation. Clin Immunol. 2011 Sep;140(3):244-59. doi: 10.1016/j.clim.2011.04.004. Epub 2011 Apr 16.

Albuquerque AS, Marques JG, Silva SL, Ligeiro D, Devlin BH, Dutrieux J, Cheynier R, Pignata C, Victorino RM, Markert ML, Sousa AE. Human FOXN1-deficiency is associated with αβ double-negative and FoxP3+ T-cell expansions that are distinctly modulated upon thymic transplantation. PLoS One. 2012;7(5):e37042. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0037042. Epub 2012 May 10.

Markert ML, Devlin BH, Chinn IK, McCarthy EA, Li YJ. Factors affecting success of thymus transplantation for complete DiGeorge anomaly. Am J Transplant. 2008 Aug;8(8):1729-36. doi: 10.1111/j.1600-6143.2008.02301.x. Epub 2008 Jun 28.

Heimall J, Keller M, Saltzman R, Bunin N, McDonald-McGinn D, Zakai E, de Villartay JP, Moshous D, Ariue B, McCarthy EA, Devlin BH, Parikh S, Buckley RH, Markert ML. Diagnosis of 22q11.2 deletion syndrome and artemis deficiency in two children with T-B-NK+ immunodeficiency. J Clin Immunol. 2012 Oct;32(5):1141-4. doi: 10.1007/s10875-012-9741-9. Epub 2012 Aug 3.

Ciupe SM, Devlin BH, Markert ML, Kepler TB. Quantification of total T-cell receptor diversity by flow cytometry and spectratyping. BMC Immunol. 2013 Aug 6;14:35. doi: 10.1186/1471-2172-14-35.

Ciupe SM, Devlin BH, Markert ML, Kepler TB. The dynamics of T-cell receptor repertoire diversity following thymus transplantation for DiGeorge anomaly. PLoS Comput Biol. 2009 Jun;5(6):e1000396. doi: 10.1371/journal.pcbi.1000396. Epub 2009 Jun 12.

Chinn IK, Milner JD, Scheinberg P, Douek DC, Markert ML. Thymus transplantation restores the repertoires of forkhead box protein 3 (FoxP3)+ and FoxP3- T cells in complete DiGeorge anomaly. Clin Exp Immunol. 2013 Jul;173(1):140-9. doi: 10.1111/cei.12088.

Li B, Li J, Hsieh CS, Hale LP, Li YJ, Devlin BH, Markert ML. Characterization of cultured thymus tissue used for transplantation with emphasis on promiscuous expression of thyroid tissue-specific genes. Immunol Res. 2009;44(1-3):71-83. doi: 10.1007/s12026-008-8083-4.

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