New therapy may eliminate transplant patients' need for lifelong drug intake

Asahi Shinbun | Akiyoshi Abe

A team of Japanese researchers has developed a technique that prevents a patient's body from rejecting transplanted organs, eliminating the need for a lifelong regimen of immunosuppressant drugs.

The technique, developed by medical researchers at Hokkaido University and Juntendo University in Tokyo, involves manipulating the recipient's and the donor's white blood corpuscles, which play a key role in immune rejection.

The team conducted trials on 10 subjects who received liver transplants from living donors. Four of them have not had to take immunosuppressant drugs for up to six months, while the six others have reduced their doses.

The method is expected to significantly ease the difficulties facing transplant recipients once it is established as a new form of therapy.

Transplant recipients typically have to continue taking drugs for the rest of their lives to prevent immune rejection. The resultant reduced immunity levels not only enhance the risks of infection and cancer, they can also lead to kidney failure and other serious side effects.

Immune rejection occurs when the recipient's T cells--a type of white blood corpuscles--attack the transplanted organ, which they recognize as a foreign body.
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