Taking rejection out of organ transplant operations

Taking rejection out of organ transplant operations
Credit: Shutterstock

Organ transplant operations save lives. But for recipients, treatment does not end with an operation - they must take medication for the rest of their lives.

The EU-funded project ONE Study ('A unified approach to evaluating cellular in solid ') is looking to change this through cell therapy - using cells themselves to stop a donor recipient's body from attacking the transplanted organ.

Since the first successful operation in 1954, the procedure has saved many people from death and improved the quality of their lives. Scientists realised early on that such operations require more than simply replacing a damaged organ with another - the recipient's immune system sees the new organ as a foreign invader, and quickly attacks it. White blood cells eventually destroy the organ in a process known as rejection.

The very first successful kidney transplant operation worked because the donated kidney came from the patient's identical twin. While this was a breakthrough, it was not a solution - not everyone has an identical twin with organs to spare.

The next breakthrough came in the 1960s, when doctors realised that they could prevent by suppressing the patient's immune system. The same technique is used today. While it undoubtedly saves lives, the system is far from perfect. Immunosuppressant drugs reduce the patient's resistance to infections, have been linked to cancer, and can have other unwanted side effects. Patients also face a lifetime of taking drugs, which is not only inconvenient, but very costly.

The ONE Study team is looking to cell therapy for the solution. The researchers are currently developing a series of cells (haematopoietic ) potentially able to regulate the . The next step will be to test the cells on donor patients.

The tests will be carried out in Regensburg and Berlin (Germany), Nantes (France), Milan (Italy) and London and Oxford (UK). Data will be sent to one place for analysis in order to minimise variability in testing. The results will be used for a direct comparison of the feasibility, safety, cost and 'promise of effect' of each cell type.

By translating basic cell therapy research into clinical utility and deepening knowledge of how different immunoregulatory cells work, the ONE Study will also pave the way for other medical research, as will the development of new technologies for sorting and tracking cells, which are needed for cell-based therapies in general.

The hope is that this project will lead to cell therapy products for further clinical tests and eventual exploitation - ultimately reducing the need for immunosuppressive drugs in organ transplant recipients.

More information: www.onestudy.org/

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Promising breakthrough for transplant patients

Feb 27, 2013

A team led by Dr. Marie-Josée Hébert from the University of Montreal Hospital Research Centre (CRCHUM) has discovered a new cause of organ rejection in some kidney transplant patients. Her team has identified a new class ...

Recommended for you

Could trophoblasts be the immune cells of pregnancy?

Dec 18, 2014

Trophoblasts, cells that form an outer layer around a fertilized egg and develop into the major part of the placenta, have now been shown to respond to inflammatory danger signals, researchers from Norwegian University of ...

Moms of food-allergic kids need dietician's support

Dec 18, 2014

Discovering your child has a severe food allergy can be a terrible shock. Even more stressful can be determining what foods your child can and cannot eat, and constructing a new diet which might eliminate entire categories ...

Multiple allergic reactions traced to single protein

Dec 17, 2014

Johns Hopkins and University of Alberta researchers have identified a single protein as the root of painful and dangerous allergic reactions to a range of medications and other substances. If a new drug can ...

User comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.