Dr. Markert Devoted Thirty Years to Developing a Viable Athymia Treatment

Imagine the feeling of working for years with the goal of saving children who have congenital athymia. Then thirty years later the FDA approves a regenerative medicine based on your work. Dr. Markert expressed her overwhelming happiness at being able to help these children.

As reported recently in The Chronicle, a Duke University news organization, the new therapy involves the culturing of thymus tissue and then implanting it into the babies who have athymia. In clinical trials, the treatment performed well and provided significant improvements in survival rates to children who received the therapy. Enzyvant holds the license for the treatment. It is the only FDA-approved therapy for congenital athymia.

About the Thymus Gland

The thymus gland, when functioning normally, assists the body’s T-cells in fighting a microorganism that causes, or can cause, disease. Children who do not have a functioning thymus gland are at risk for infections that can be fatal. Untreated, the life span for these children may be only three years.

Responding to a Call

In 1991, Dr. Markert received a telephone call from a doctor inquiring about treatment for a child with a severe type of congenital athymia. Dr. Markert recalled several earlier studies that used immunotherapy for pediatric patients who did not have a thymus gland.

She conferred with two distinguished professors who were experienced in treating children with no immune system. After further investigation, Dr. Markert made a decision to pursue research in cultured thymus tissue implants.

In 2021, Dr. Markert received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Immune Deficiency Foundation. As an offshoot to Dr. Markert’s research, the foundation has recently expanded efforts through a heart/thymus transplant.

After four decades of service at Duke University, Dr. Markert announced her retirement in October 2021.

Rose Duesterwald

Rose Duesterwald

Rose became acquainted with Patient Worthy after her husband was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML) six years ago. During this period of partial remission, Rose researched investigational drugs to be prepared in the event of a relapse. Her husband died February 12, 2021 with a rare and unexplained occurrence of liver cancer possibly unrelated to AML.

Share this post

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on pinterest
Share on print
Share on email