Study could help transplant surgeons predict rejection/tailor medications

PITTSBURGH Oct. 11, 2006 A Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC transplant surgeon and researcher has received a grant from the National Institutes of Health to study genetic factors that could predispose transplant recipients to rejection.

The goal of the four-year, $1.1 million grant is to study these factors in order to predict before transplant which patients are more likely to experience rejection. This information may be used to tailor anti-rejection medications accordingly, according to Rakesh Sindhi, MD, co-director of Children's Hillman Center for Pediatric Transplantation and principal investigator of the study. He plans to enroll 80 children receiving liver transplants at Children's.

"Based on the results of this study, a patient more likely to reject a transplanted organ may someday receive high doses of anti-rejection medicine initially. Those who are less likely to reject could have lower doses, or less potent combinations," said Dr. Sindhi, an associate professor of surgery at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. "By applying individualized anti-rejection strategies before the transplant even occurs, we hope to reduce rejection rates and drug-induced side effects for pediatric liver transplant from 50 percent to about 20 percent."

Surgical techniques have improved survival rates for pediatric organ transplantation dramatically over the last 25 years. As a result, the challenge has shifted to improving quality of life. Anti-rejection medications are important because, while they make transplantation possible, they also can have adverse side effects that can themselves become life-threatening, such as infections and cancers.

Researchers will study the multiple processes that cause rejection in blood cells. This information will be linked to the unique "genomic fingerprint" of a liver transplant candidate, based on the inheritance of more than 500,000 mutations from parent to child. These mutati

Contact: Marc Lukasiak
Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh

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