Hand transplantation: A Swiss research success

August 22, 2013
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.

Explore further: Despite success, demand low for hand transplants

Related Stories

Despite success, demand low for hand transplants

December 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."

Dendritic cell therapy improves kidney transplant survival, study says

June 28, 2013
(Medical Xpress)—A single systemic dose of special immune cells prevented rejection for almost four months in a preclinical animal model of kidney transplantation, according to experts at the University of Pittsburgh School ...

First bilateral hand transplant performed at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania

November 1, 2011
For the first time in the Delaware Valley Region, a patient has undergone a complex and intricate bilateral hand transplant that could significantly enhance the quality-of-life for persons with multiple limb loss. The procedure ...

Why people put themselves under the knife: Psychologists confirm long-term positive effects of plastic surgery

March 11, 2013
In a long-term study, Prof. Dr. Jürgen Margraf, Alexander von Humboldt Professor for Clinical Psychology and Psychotherapy at the RUB, investigated the psychological effects of plastic surgery on approximately 550 patients ...

Recommended for you

Exploring the potential of human echolocation

June 25, 2017
People who are visually impaired will often use a cane to feel out their surroundings. With training and practice, people can learn to use the pitch, loudness and timbre of echoes from the cane or other sounds to navigate ...

Team eradicates hepatitis C in 10 patients following lifesaving transplants from infected donors

April 30, 2017
Ten patients at Penn Medicine have been cured of the Hepatitis C virus (HCV) following lifesaving kidney transplants from deceased donors who were infected with the disease. The findings point to new strategies for increasing ...

'bench to bedside to bench': Scientists call for closer basic-clinical collaborations

March 24, 2017
In the era of genome sequencing, it's time to update the old "bench-to-bedside" shorthand for how basic research discoveries inform clinical practice, researchers from The Jackson Laboratory (JAX), National Human Genome Research ...

The ethics of tracking athletes' biometric data

January 18, 2017
(Medical Xpress)—Whether it is a FitBit or a heart rate monitor, biometric technologies have become household devices. Professional sports leagues use some of the most technologically advanced biodata tracking systems to ...

Financial ties between researchers and drug industry linked to positive trial results

January 18, 2017
Financial ties between researchers and companies that make the drugs they are studying are independently associated with positive trial results, suggesting bias in the evidence base, concludes a study published by The BMJ ...

Best of Last Year – The top Medical Xpress articles of 2016

December 23, 2016
(Medical Xpress)—It was a big year for research involving overall health issues, starting with a team led by researchers at the UNC School of Medicine and the National Institutes of Health who unearthed more evidence that ...

0 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.