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Bone Marrow With Organ Transplants Reduces Rejection Of Transplanted Organs, Reports University Of Pittsburgh

Results of clinical study presented at Experimental Biology '99 meeting

WASHINGTON, D.C., April 21 -- Organ rejection occurs less often and is less severe in patients who receive infusions of bone marrow from the same donor, researchers from the University of Pittsburgh's Thomas E. Starzl Transplantation Institute report today at Experimental Biology '99. Their findings, which represent six years of study of patients who received the extra boost of donor immune system cells, indicate the procedure is safe and augments the cellular environment that the research team believes is necessary for long-term acceptance of a transplanted organ.

Results of the study--the largest of its kind--are particularly encouraging for the recipients of hearts, lungs and combined kidney and pancreas, reports Abdul Rao, M.D., D.Phil., assistant professor of surgery and pathology and director, section of cellular transplantation. In addition, the outcomes for liver transplant patients suggest that some patients can be weaned from the drugs that control organ rejection. The researchers are selecting these patients for a step-wise weaning protocol, which has not yet been initiated.

Controlling rejection is the key to successful organ transplantation. For the most part, surgeons rely on drugs that suppress the patient's immune response as their main line of defense against an immune system attack. But despite newer and better drugs, organ rejection can still occur, even years after transplantation. Even if the drugs effectively control rejection, they can produce serious medical complications and make the patient more susceptible to cancers and infections, some which can be deadly.

"While the ultimate goal in some of the bone marrow patients is to take them off immunosuppressive drugs, we do not want to interfere with the natural peace-keeping process between the recipient and donor immune systems. In other words, the drugs are necessary, at le
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Contact: Lisa Rossi
rossiL@msx.upmc.edu
412-624-2607
University of Pittsburgh Medical Center
21-Apr-1999


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