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Gene pattern may identify kidney transplant recipients who don't need lifelong anti-rejection drugs
Date:5/24/2010

To prevent rejection of their new kidneys, kidney transplant recipients need to take immunosuppressive drugs for the rest of their lives. A handful of people, out of the thousands who have undergone transplantation, have been able to stop taking these drugs without losing their kidneys.

Researchers studying these rare individuals have identified a pattern of genes turned on in their white blood cells, which may one day be used to help identify other transplant recipients who could reduce or completely taper their immunosuppressive therapy without ill effect.

The study, whose results were reported this week in the Journal of Clinical Investigation, was performed by the Immune Tolerance Network (ITN), an international research consortium with headquarters at University of California, San Francisco.

The paper's lead author is Kenneth Newell, MD, PhD, director of the Living Donor Kidney Program at Emory Transplant Center and professor of surgery at Emory University School of Medicine. Senior authors are Laurence Turka, MD, of Harvard Medical School and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, and Vicki Seyfert-Margolis, PhD, former chief scientific officer at the ITN, now an advisor in the Food and Drug Administration Office of the Chief Scientist.

The authors emphasize that their study looked at "tolerant" patients. These are patients who had stopped taking their prescribed immunosuppressive medications for at least a year, yet did not reject their kidneys. They are not encouraging others to follow the same course of action.

"The signature that we discovered in these individuals may be useful for identifying kidney transplant recipients who are already tolerant. Whether or not this same signature will identify those kidney transplant recipients still taking immunosuppressive medications who are predisposed to developing tolerance in the future remains unknown," Newell says. "Carefully supervised studies will be necessar
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Contact: Holly Korschun
hkorsch@emory.edu
404-727-3990
Emory University
Source:Eurekalert

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