This news release is available in German.
Over 150 million people throughout the world suffer from chronic infection with the hepatitis C virus (HCV), which causes massive damage to the liver. Advanced liver diseases often necessitate liver transplants. In the new clinical study Dr. Felix Bohne and his colleagues studied together with Prof. Alberto Snchez-Fueyo from King's College London 34 hepatitis C patients at the Liver Unit of the University Hospital Clnic de Barcelona who had received new livers.
The researchers had two objectives here: first, they wanted to gain a better understanding of the mechanisms that enable the body's own immune system to tolerate the new organ despite the HCV infection; second, they were looking for factors that could act as biomarkers for tolerance in the patients.
"If tolerance could be reliably predicted based on certain markers, many patients could stop taking immunosuppressants after a certain period of time," explains Dr. Felix Bohne, lead scientist of the study. Patients must take these strong drugs after transplants. They suppress the immune system so that the body does not identify the new organ as foreign and reject it. For patients with hepatitis C, this is a particular burden, as they need a stable immune system after the transplant to control their chronic HCV infection.
Markers for tolerance
During the study, the patients stopped taking the immunosuppressants. They were observed for twelve months to see which of them could also tolerate the new organ without the drugs, and which of them did not. The scientists took liver and blood samples from the patients prior to and after the cessation of the drugs. Detailed immunological tests on these patient samples were carried out under the leadership o
|Contact: Vera Siegler|
Technische Universitaet Muenchen