University of Pittsburgh, through Immune Tolerance Network, to develop tests predictive of transplant tolerance
PITTSBURGH, Nov. 1 -- Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh's Thomas E. Starzl Transplantation Institute have been awarded $728,000 through the Immune Tolerance Network to study a group of transplant patients who are completely off immunosuppressive drugs to see if clues can yield simple laboratory tests predictive of transplant tolerance, the most elusive goal in the field of transplantation. Transplant tolerance, which refers to the state by which a patient's immune system has fully accepted a transplanted organ, is one of the key areas of study of the network, an ambitious $144 million undertaking supported by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases and Juvenile Diabetes Foundation International.
The Pitt team was selected because of its ongoing contributions in transplant immunology and its body of research that has resulted in about 40 liver transplant recipients in a physician-controlled trial being able to be completely weaned off anti-rejection drugs. The patients have been drug-free for a mean of 6.6 years. Typically, a life-long regimen of anti-rejection drugs, or immunosuppressive drugs, is required to prevent the transplanted organ from being attacked by the patient's immune system. Such drugs can cause serious complications, such as tumor growth, and make patients more susceptible to infections. The risks associated with long-term immunosuppressive therapies are one of the key limiting factors of successful organ transplantation.
The new project will enable further study of these patients, and potentially others, to determine how it is that their transplanted organs continue to be accepted by their immune systems without the aid of drugs, and to identify potential tests that can be predictive of who physicians
Contact: Lisa Rossi
University of Pittsburgh Medical Center