Scientists at the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) are developing a therapy so that avoids organ rejection in kidney transplanted patients.

One of the common problems in organ transplantation is that the body can develop a rejection to the graft. To avoid rejection, patients must take immunosuppressant medications throughout their life, said researcher Gloria Soldevila-Melgarejo, Institute of Biomedical Research.

Immunosuppressant drugs have the function of blocking the body’s natural immune response to ‘forein’ substances (in this case the kidney); mostly controlling the defense of T lymphocytes (white blood cells responsible for the immune response).

According to the information released by UNAM Global, Soldevila-Melgarejo indicated that in the medium term, the therapy works between 11 years (when the kidney was received from a dead donor) and 14 years (from a living donor). After this time lapse, a new transplant would be needed.

Immunosuppressant drugs also have side effects, which can cause cardiovascular and metabolic problems, damage to the kidney itself and other organs.

Soldevila-Melgarejo said that their research, denominated ‘Establishment of a Protocol for Expansion and Generation of Regulatory T Cells with Stable Suppressive Function and Potential Therapeutic Transplant’, tries to replace the immunosuppressant drug therapy for a more specific one that works in a natural way.

In that sense, she mentioned that they are working in two methodologies: The first is to extract the regulatory T cells from the individual, to later reintegrate them into the patient intravenously and thus suppress the alloreactive cells that try to reject the graft. The second option is to take virgin T lymphocytes, culture them and program them to become regulatory T cells and prevent them from rejecting the graft.

Both methodologies are proven candidates to possible therapies, se said, “but we must guarantee that the cells that we expand or convert in the long term can be implanted in the individual without losing its function. To do this, we must demonstrate it under an inflammatory environment (such as the presence of pro-inflammatory cytokines), not losing their suppressive function.”

The research, carried out with the collaboration of the Department of Transplants of the National Institute of Medical Sciences and Nutrition ‘Salvador Zubirán’, now is testing the therapy to verify it does not cause any damage to the body.


Source: La Jornada