Hand transplantation: A Swiss research success

The successful research trio (from left): Robert Rieben, Esther Vögelin and Thusitha Gajanayake. Credit: Tanja Kocher

Hope for hand amputees: researchers at Inselspital and the University of Bern have successfully tested a new method for local immunosuppression.

Every year, 15 to 20 people in Switzerland lose a hand in an accident. Provided suitable preconditions are met, a hand transplant is the best treatment method, particularly for patients who have lost both hands. The main problem with this treatment is that patients have to be immunosuppressed, i.e. their total immune system has to be brought down with drugs to prevent their organism rejecting the foreign tissue. This treatment is associated with undesirable side effects and impairments to the quality of life. Until now though, patients have had no other option.

In on rats, it has now been possible to replace systemic (total) immunosuppression with a local treatment of the transplanted limb. This has been successfully achieved by a research team from the Department of Plastic and Hand Surgery, Inselspital, and the Department of Clinical Research (DKF) of the University of Bern under the direction of scientist Dr Thusitha Gajanayake from Sri Lanka. Professor Robert Rieben from the DKF, Head of Research in : "The results are very promising. Just a single treatment results in the complete prevention of a rejection reaction." Professor Esther Vögelin, Senior Consultant and Co-Director of the Department of Plastic and Hand Surgery: "This laboratory success means that in future hand can hope for a significant improvement in quality of life, because systemic immunosuppression could be reduced or omitted altogether.

The Bern research team is now working with great zeal towards its long-term goal of performing a in Switzerland. In the longer term this should be done with an optimised approach to . In fact the latter would be a world's first. On 2 September, international experts from the USA, India and Austria will discuss the new method at the invitation of the DKF research team in Bern.

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Despite success, demand low for hand transplants

Dec 17, 2012

A year after a young amputee left the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania with transplanted hands and forearms, the lead surgeon calls her progress "nothing less than spectacular."

Recommended for you

Thai parliament votes to ban commercial surrogacy (Update)

1 hour ago

Thailand's parliament has voted to ban commercial surrogacy after outrage erupted over the unregulated industry following a series scandals including the case of an Australian couple accused of abandoning a baby with Down's ...

Doctor behind 'free radical' aging theory dies

Nov 25, 2014

Dr. Denham Harman, a renowned scientist who developed the most widely accepted theory on aging that's now used to study cancer, Alzheimer's disease and other illnesses, has died in Nebraska at age 98.

Mexican boy who had massive tumor recovering

Nov 25, 2014

An 11-year-old Mexican boy who had pieces of a massive tumor removed and who drew international attention after U.S. officials helped him get treatment in the southwestern U.S. state of New Mexico is still recovering after ...

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.