Anthony OakhillBMJ 2007; 334 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.39069.681169.FA (Published 04 January 2007) Cite this as: BMJ 2007;334:48
- Caroline Richmond
In a brilliant career cut short by cancer, Tony Oakhill built the team that developed the most important recent advance in the treatment of childhood leukaemia: bone marrow transplantation using unrelated donors. The technique is now standard and has saved hundreds of lives. His team also developed a method of detecting minimal residual disease.
In the 1980s many children were being cured of leukaemia, but around a quarter had a relapse after chemotherapy. High dose chemotherapy and bone marrow transplantation saved many, but this was possible only when there was a close family match. The idea of using unrelated donors was heresy.
Tony Oakhill and the team he built widened the use of transplantation to enable children to receive, safely, partially matched bone marrow from unrelated donors. The technique they used Campath antibodies to kill the T cells that caused graft versus host disease. Now, most children who need bone marrow transplantation can be treated successfully, and their outcome is as …