Drug could cut transplant rejection

November 21, 2017

A diabetes drug currently undergoing development could be repurposed to help end transplant rejection, without the side-effects of current immunosuppressive drugs, according to new research by Queen Mary University of London (QMUL).

In the study, funded by the British Heart Foundation (BHF) and published in Immunity, researchers found that the enzyme glucokinase increases the movement of a type of T cell, called a regulatory T cell, into human organs. Once inside the these regulatory T cells act as guardians of the immune system, preventing it from rejecting a transplanted organ.

The researchers found that when regulatory T cells were treated with a drug known to increase the activity of the glucokinase enzyme they moved into the organ tissue of mice in much greater numbers.

The team then studied blood samples from a group of people who have a genetic mutation making their version of the glucokinase enzyme more active. They found that in these people, the regulatory T cells move into the organs more readily.

These results suggest that a drug currently being developed to treat people with type 2 diabetes which increases the activity of the glucokinase enzyme could now also be used to prevent after a transplant.

Currently, drugs used to prevent organ rejection have a number of side effects, including leaving patients at greater risk of infections and also cancer, because they are unable to specifically target the area of the immune system responsible for organ rejection.

BHF Professor Federica Marelli-Berg, Professor of Cardiovascular Immunology at QMUL, who led the research, said: "With this research we've hit upon a completely different way to stop organ rejection.

"Our next step is to take the into clinical trials. If the trials are successful, these findings could prove to be life-changing for patients who have had a transplant."

Professor Jeremy Pearson, Associate Medical Director at the British Heart Foundation, which funded the research, said: "Heart transplantation has come a long way since the first heart transplant nearly fifty years ago. However, when our immune system rejects the donated heart this can have devastating consequences.

"With this research we are one step closer to reducing the number of people suffering from organ , and to prevent people from re-joining a growing transplant waiting list.

"Ultimately, allowing people who have undergone this procedure to live longer, healthier lives with a healthy donor ."

Explore further: Drug therapy from lethal bacteria could reduce kidney transplant rejection

Related Stories

Drug therapy from lethal bacteria could reduce kidney transplant rejection

August 3, 2017
An experimental treatment derived from a potentially deadly microorganism may provide lifesaving help for kidney transplant patients, according to an international study led by investigators at Cedars-Sinai.

New approach to immunosuppression could avoid transplant organ rejection, study finds

June 17, 2015
A new study has identified how blocking a special set of molecules on the surface of T cells can suppress the heart's immune response – responsible for transplant rejection and autoimmune diseases such as myocarditis – ...

Discovery could provide new prevention, treatment option for organ transplant rejection

August 24, 2016
An international team led by researchers from the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine found that targeting certain donor cells lowered the risk of organ rejection in mice that underwent kidney and heart transplants. ...

Experts uncover first molecular events of organ rejection

June 23, 2017
Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and the University of Toronto have uncovered the first molecular steps that lead to immune system activation and eventual rejection of a transplanted organ. The ...

Hyperlipidemia, caused by a high-fat diet, aggressively accelerates organ rejection

June 16, 2015
In two studies published online today in the American Journal of Transplantation, researchers determined that hyperlipidemia accelerates heart-transplant rejection in mice. By using models that mimic the health conditions ...

Recommended for you

Exposure to larger air particles linked to increased risk of asthma in children

December 15, 2017
Researchers at The Johns Hopkins University report statistical evidence that children exposed to airborne coarse particulate matter—a mix of dust, sand and non-exhaust tailpipe emissions, such as tire rubber—are more ...

Bioengineers imagine the future of vaccines and immunotherapy

December 14, 2017
In the not-too-distant future, nanoparticles delivered to a cancer patient's immune cells might teach the cells to destroy tumors. A flu vaccine might look and feel like applying a small, round Band-Aid to your skin.

Immune cells turn back time to achieve memory

December 13, 2017
Memory T cells earn their name by embodying the memory of the immune system - they help the body remember what infections or vaccines someone has been exposed to. But to become memory T cells, the cells go backwards in time, ...

Steroid study sheds light on long term side effects of medicines

December 13, 2017
Fresh insights into key hormones found in commonly prescribed medicines have been discovered, providing further understanding of the medicines' side effects.

The immune cells that help tumors instead of destroying them

December 12, 2017
Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer-associated deaths. One of the most promising ways to treat it is by immunotherapy, a strategy that turns the patient's immune system against the tumor. In the past twenty years, ...

Cancer gene plays key role in cystic fibrosis lung infections

December 12, 2017
PTEN is best known as a tumor suppressor, a type of protein that protects cells from growing uncontrollably and becoming cancerous. But according to a new study from Columbia University Medical Center (CUMC), PTEN has a second, ...

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.