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Stem Cells Show Promise in Extending Transplanted Kidneys’ Survival Time
Date:2/7/2013

Durham, NC (PRWEB) February 07, 2013

Kidney transplants have long been the treatment of choice for many patients with end-stage renal disease, and the short-term results are excellent. But unfortunately, the viability of these kidneys over time has not improved accordingly, often due to fibrosis, which is a scarring of the transplanted organ generally caused by the immune system rejecting it.

The LUMC team, led by Marlies E.J. Reinders, M.D, Ph.D., and Ton J. Rabelink, M.D., Ph.D., decided to test whether stem cells might keep fibrosis in check. They focused on mesenchymal stromal cells, a type of stem cell found throughout the body, including in bone marrow.

“Mesenchymal stromal cells (MSCs) are an interesting candidate due to their immunosuppressive and regenerative properties,” Dr. Reinders explained. “Of importance, no clinical studies have investigated their effects on rejection and fibrosis in organ transplantation.”

The team performed a safety and feasibility study in kidney transplant patients who, at four weeks or six months after transplant, were showing signs of rejection and/or an increase in fibrosis and wasting away of the kidney’s tubes (a condition called interstitial fibrosis/tubular atrophy. . In all, six patients received two intravenous MSC infusions of 1 million cells, collected from the patient’s own bone marrow and given one week apart. None of the patients had any sign of adverse, treatment-related side effects from the MSCs, although three developed infections associated with immune suppression.

Five of the patients had a specific decrease in immunity against the transplanted organ. In agreement, prior to the infusions, two of the patients had tubulitis — lesions that are a warning sign of organ rejection — which disappeared after the MSC treatment.

“These first clinical observations support the potential of stem cells as a novel cell therapy to prevent allograft
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