Researchers from the Northwestern Medicine in Chicago and University of Louisville have discovered a new way that will help a patient's body to accept organs from a mismatched, unrelated organ donor. They found a way to trick the immune system by manipulating the stem cells.
Researchers had conducted an experiment and discovered a way to trick the immune system by infusing donor stem cells. The donor stem cell infusions that have been specially engineered to "trick" the recipients' immune system into thinking the donated organ is part of the patient's natural self, thus gradually eliminating or reducing the need for anti-rejection medication.
Usually in a standard kidney transplant, the donor agrees to donate his kidney, but in this method there is huge process. The individual is asked to donate a part of his immune system as well. The process begins about one month before the kidney transplant, when bone marrow stem cells are collected from the blood of the kidney donor. The donor cells are then sent to the lab to get processed, where researchers enrich for "facilitating cells" believed to help transplants succeed. During the same time period, the recipient undergoes pre-transplant "conditioning," which includes radiation and chemotherapy to suppress the bone marrow so the donor's stem cells have more space to grow in the recipient's body.
Once the facilitating cell-enriched stem cell product has been prepared, it is implanted into the recipient body. As a result, the recipient immune system was tricked into thinking that the donated organ was a part of its body itself.
Researchers are now planning a second clinical trial, which would offer similar treatment for subjects who have already undergone a living donor kidney transplant.
"Being a transplant recipient is not easy. In order to prevent rejection, current transplant recipients must take multiple pills a day for the rest of their lives. These immunosuppressive medications come with serious side effects with prolonged use including high blood pressure, diabetes, infection, heart disease and cancer, as well as direct damaging effects to the organ transplant," said Suzanne Ildstad, MD, director of the Institute of Cellular Therapeutics at the University of Louisville, said in a statement. "This new approach would potentially offer a better quality of life and fewer health risks for transplant recipients."