Skip navigation
  A. Filter Paper Used to Test for 'Boy in the B

Narrator: This is Science Today. ‘Boy in the Bubble' disease refers to a rare, but profound immune deficiency in which infants are born without antibodies and cellular immunity. Dr. E. Richard Stiehm, a professor of pediatrics at UCLA, says if these infants are not given a bone marrow transplant by age 6 or 12 months, they will die because they don't have cellular immunity.

Stiehm: The reason they don't is that they don't have lymphocytes, which are the most important cell for the cellular or the T-cell system and we and others are devising a way to take the core blood cells, in which every infant gets a sample of his blood on filter paper and eluding some of that blood off of that filter paper and we can identify whether these babies make lymphocytes or not.

Narrator: By identifying these infants before they get ill, Stiehm says they can be cured with bone marrow transplants or core blood transplants.

Stiehm: It's a fairly uncommon disease. However, we think that it may actually be more common because many of these patients die before they're diagnosed.

Narrator: For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.