Kidney Transplant

Professionals believe that immunosuppressive drugs go far too literally with their names in case of patients encountering organ rejection. A new research by scientists at the Northwestern University has unleashed the hidden power of stem cells in aiding successful kidney transplant procedures without the need for immunosuppressive drugs.

This process apparently tricked the patient’s immune system into believing that the organ was originally a part of the body. Thus, the need for anti-rejection medications was eliminated or reduced for the patients.

“The preliminary results from this ongoing study are exciting and may have a major impact on organ transplantation in the future. With refinement, this approach may prove to be applicable to the majority of patients receiving the full spectrum of solid organ transplants,” commented Joseph Leventhal, MD, PhD, associate professor of surgery and director of kidney and pancreas transplantation at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine.

In this mechanism, the donor or recipient may not have to necessarily be related in any way. While the donors generally provide their kidneys, they also have to donate a part of their immune system for this process. After extensive tests involving enrichment of stem cells obtained a month prior to the transplant, the recipient is subjected to pre-transplant conditioning.

Following the transplant, the donor stem cells are then infused into the patient’s body, after which 2 bone marrow systems develop and operate in 1 person. The patient has to then consume anti-rejection drugs for a year, which are decreased gradually and finally stopped. There are certain obligations in terms of the blood type and antibodies of the donor and recipient before this experimental trial could begin. The procedure is currently being tested.

This report is published in the journal, Science Translational Medicine.