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Organ Transplant Drug Keeps Immune System in Check
Date:2/3/2010

In lab tests, it fights rejection and reduces need for immunosuppressive meds, study finds

WEDNESDAY, Feb. 3 (HealthDay News) -- Adding a new drug to the heavy regimen of immunosuppressant drugs given to organ transplant recipients not only prevented rejection of the new organ but also cut down on the amount of immunosuppressant drugs needed, a new study finds.

Researchers hope the experimental drug will eventually preclude the need for any immunosuppressant drugs after an organ transplant.

"Current drugs are quite toxic when it comes to long-term survival. There are side effects, and organs suffer because of the drugs," said Dr. Mohanram Narayanan, associate professor of internal medicine at Texas A&M Health Science Center College of Medicine in Temple and chief of clinical transplantation at Scott & White Healthcare. "This is a definite step in the right direction."

"The hope is that this will translate into a new treatment to prevent organ rejection in transplant patients," added Agnes Azimzadeh, second author of a study published Feb. 3 in Science Translational Medicine.

"The other long-term goal is not only to prevent the rejection of organs more efficiently than is done currently but also to induce tolerance to the graft itself," added Azimzadeh, an assistant professor of surgery at the University of Maryland School of Medicine in Baltimore.

"That means that we modulate, we tweak, we educate the immune system of the transplant recipient so it recognizes the graft as [its own] cells rather than recognizing it as foreign. We would educate the immune system so well that at some point we could stop or decrease significantly immunosuppressive drugs that the patient has to take."

Organ transplantation is the only hope for many patients experiencing kidney, heart or other organ failure, but the body's innate immune system perceives the new organ as a threat and sends o
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