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King's College London reveals promising techniques for extending the life of an organ transplant
Date:9/15/2010

Experts from the Medical Research Council (MRC) Centre for Transplantation at King's College London, based at Guy's Hospital, have revealed exciting new scientific developments for people with an organ transplant, intended to help prevent rejection of the new organ and extend its life.

Although organ transplantation has been taking place for over 50 years, there are a number of significant challenges, such as a shortage of donor organs, maintaining the quality of an organ in transit, and the risk of organ rejection both immediately after transplant and in the following years.

Scientists at King's College London, part of King's Health Partners Academic Health Sciences Centre, are working hard to solve these problems through techniques known as protein therapeutics and cell therapy.

Protein therapeutics

The work using protein therapeutics aims to reduce the risk of an organ being damaged in the hours and days following a transplant, by maintaining the quality of the donor organ prior to transplantation.

Currently, organs cannot survive outside the body for more than around 24 hours. In daily life when an infection or virus meets cells or fluids in the body, it activates a part of the immune system, known as the 'complement' system, which attacks and attempts to destroy the cells of the intruder organism.

The complement system is usually kept in check by 'regulators' which are found on the surface of the cells. Their presence prevents it from attacking the body's own cells. However, when an organ is removed for transplantation, complement regulators are lost from the surface of cells due to the lack of blood flow and consequent lack of oxygen. Unregulated, the complement system begins to attack the organ's own cells, severely damaging it. Once the transplant is complete, the effect can be amplified as the complement system supports the recipient's own blood cells in its attack on the organ resul
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Contact: Melanie Haberstroh
melanie.haberstroh@kcl.ac.uk
44-020-784-83076
King's College London
Source:Eurekalert

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