Preventing donor organ rejection in kidney transplant recipients without a lifelong course of immunosuppressive drugs may become a possibility.
Researchers at Stanford University Medical Center presented their findings to the American Transplant Congress on April 28. Their work appeared in the May 15 issue of Transplantation. The research results are from four patients who had kidney transplants between 12 and 18 months ago.
After a kidney was transplanted in each patient, the research team gave that person immunosuppressive drugs, cyclosporine and prednisone, to prevent organ rejection. After transplantation, each kidney recipient received multiple small doses of radiation targeted to the immune system combined with a drug to reduce the number of cells capable of an immune attack. The team then injected blood stem cells from the kidney donor into each recipient. The stem cells made their way to the recipient's bone marrow, where they produced new blood and immune cells that mixed with the existing blood, allowing the recipient's immune cells to recognize the donated organ as its own. Each patient was then weaned away from the immunosuppressive drugs.
Mitka M. Preventing Transplant Rejection Without Drugs. JAMA. 2002;287(20):2645. doi:10.1001/jama.287.20.2645-JQU20005-2-1