Organ transplant can be free of immunosuppressants: Research

Updated: Feb 06, 2013, 17:25 PM IST

Ahmedabad: In a break through, stem cell researchers here claimed to have found a way out where organ transplantation among the patients could be free of immunosuppressive drugs, which often lead to reduced immunity making their life difficult post transplant.

The researchers claim to have generated T-regs (Regulatory T Cells) in laboratory, which, on being administered to patients, eliminate the need for immunosuppressants after undergoing organ transplantation.

"Researchers infused T-regs in about 27 kidney patients so far after the transplantation. These patients underwent stem cell infusion, followed by kidney transplantation after immune testing and then T-reg infusion," Head of Department of Pathology, Institute of Kidney Diseases and Research Centre-Institute of Transplantation Sciences (IKDRC-ITS), Dr Aruna Vanikar said.

T-regs are a variety of cells that display regulatory function in vitro and in vivo. They play a major role in shutdown of T cell-mediated immunity and are capable of inducing energy towards self and allo-antigens.

"T-regs eliminate requirement for immunasuppressant medications. This is the second major breakthrough that researchers have achieved after generating Mesenchymal Stem Cells (MSC) and hematopoietic stem cells in more than 1,500 renal allograft (transplant) recipients for reducing immunosuppression," she said.

The breakthrough, she said, is expected to create a milestone in all solid organ transplantations and will save patients from associated morbidity and mortality, apart from reducing family`s financial burden.

The generation of T-regs may also help in treatment of diseases like autoimmune disorders, including all kinds of diabetes, hematopoietic disorders like haemophilia and may also help in curing AIDS and cancer, Vanikar claimed.

"Earlier (in 2007), MSC was derived from adipose tissue, a stem cell, which formed into T-regs in the body, reducing chances of rejection of kidney transplantation," Dr Vanikar said, adding that the present research has gone ahead in generating T-regs in laboratories and totally reducing the dependence on immunosuppression medications.
Vanikar said that scientists across the world have been working on "transplantation tolerance" and researchers here were pioneers in achieving the feat.

"The feat has been acknowledged in writing in 40 journals and more than 100 patients, who underwent kidney transplantations, and are living normal life without any dependence on immunosuppressants," Vanikar said.

For this, Shruti Dave, working as a junior research fellow under Vanikar and Prof H L Trivedi at the department of Pathology, IKDRC-ITS, was conferred the most outstanding young researcher in Nephrology award for her work on generation of regulatory-cells from adipose tissue and peripheral blood mononuclear cells.

The award, constituting a cash prize of Rs 2 lakh, a citation and a gold medallion, was given by TANKER Foundation and Kerala Kidney Research Foundation in Chennai on January 25.