The team, led by Professor Fred Fandrich from the University of Schleswig-Holstein in Kiel, Germany, has developed a technique based on tailor-made regulatory cells. "Until now the only option for transplant patients has been to take a cocktail of drugs for the rest of their lives" explains lead author Dr James A Hutchinson from the University's Division of Transplantation Medicine and Biotechnology. The drugs often cause severe side effects.
"That is why our use of transplant acceptance-inducing cells (TAICs) in kidney transplant patients is such an exciting development, as it could eventually offer patients who have had transplant surgery a much higher quality of life, free from complex drug regimes."
During stage one of the clinical trials 12 patients received kidneys from deceased donors and were give the TAICs in addition to the traditional drug therapy used to prevent organ rejection. Nine men and three women aged between 30 and 61 took part in the trial.
Ten of the 12 patients were weaned off conventional immunosupression drugs over a period of eight weeks, starting in the fourth week after transplantation. Medical staff was then able to wean six of them down to low-dose tacrolimus monotherapy, which is a much less intrusive drug regime with fewer side effects. "We concluded that although the stage one trial showed that TAIC therapy was both safe and clinically practicable, the trial was unable to provide evidence that postoperative TAIC administration has a beneficial effect", said Hutchinson.
Stage two comprised five patients who were transplanted with kidneys from live donors and received TAICs before their surgery was carried out. "Although our stage two clinical trial did not provide conclusive evidence of a beneficial effect of pre-operative TAICs treatment, the results were encouraging" said Hutchinson. "Although this procedure is still being developed and refined, it poses an exciting possibility for clinicians and patients alike”, he added.
MEDICA.de; Source: Wiley-Blackwell