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Mechanism found behind drug-free acceptance of transplants

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Scientists at Ohio State University may have discovered how a few rare organ transplant recipients manage to prevent their bodies from rejecting their new organs without the help of drugs.

In this unusual category of patients -- who retain healthy function of their transplants even when they go off immunosuppressive drugs -- the immune system still reacts normally. However, the system essentially counteracts its own normal combative response against the donor organ, researchers found.

"It's like two negatives making a positive," said Anne M. VanBuskirk, research scientist at Ohio State's department of surgery and lead author of the study. VanBuskirk and her colleagues reported their findings in a recent issue of the Journal of Clinical Investigation.

A detailed understanding of the regulatory pattern uncovered by the researchers would help doctors monitor transplant patients more effectively by reducing their dependence on immunosuppressants. Eventually, this might prove to be an important step toward the ultimate goal of transplantation: getting recipients to accept a transplanted organ without administering drugs.

Left to their own devices, most patients' immune systems would reject organs transplanted into them. It is only with a daily dose of drugs -- often several pills taken together -- that transplant recipients keep their immune systems from reacting violently to the foreign organ.


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Contact: Anne M. VanBuskirk
Vanbuskirk.1@osu.edu
614-292-6774
Ohio State University
9-Sep-2000


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