August 7, 2008

End of Transplant Drugs May Be Near

Germany scientists say they've created a technique that might avoid the necessity of transplant patients taking anti-rejection drugs the rest of their lives.

The researchers -- led by Professor Fred Fandrich at the University of Schleswig-Holstein in Kiel, Germany -- said their technique involves taking infection-fighting white cells from a transplant patient's blood and subjecting them to a highly complex procedure involving cells taken from the living or deceased donor. The tailor-made cells are then administered back to the patient.

"Until now the only option for transplant patients has been to take a cocktail of drugs for the rest of their lives" said Dr. James Hutchinson, the study's lead author. "These drugs can cause severe side effects and cannot always prevent the slow destructive process of chronic rejection which often leads to the failure of the transplanted organ.

"That is why our use of transplant acceptance-inducing cells in kidney transplant patients is such an exciting development, as it could eventually offer patients who have had transplant surgery a much higher quality of life, free from complex drug regimes."

The procedure is reported in the August issue of the journal Transplant International.