- Prof. Kathryn Wood, Principal Investigator
- University of Oxford, Oxford, United Kingdom
- Identity of the Cells Responsible for Transplant Survival
The survival of a transplant is currently dependent on the continued administration of powerful immunosuppressive drugs. Although effective in the short term, non-specific immunosuppressive drugs appear unable to switch off the immune response to the donor completely. In other words, they are unable to induce unresponsiveness or tolerance to the transplant. The induction of tolerance to the organ donor is one of the important aims for the future development of clinical transplantation. Switching off all or even part of the immune response to a transplant would diminish the requirement for long-term immunosuppressive drug therapy thereby reducing the risks of infection and cancer after transplantation.
There are a number of new and exciting approaches for manipulating the immune response after transplantation. Some of these involve the use of biological molecules that in addition to preventing rejection may also facilitate the development of tolerance. At the moment, there are no reliable ways of monitoring whether tolerance to the organ donor has developed after transplantation. The development of methods for determining whether a patient is becoming unresponsive to their transplant is critically important for future developments in transplantation. We think that a special population of white blood cells is responsible for controlling the immune response to the transplant. During the proposed project we will try to find out which cells are responsible for tolerance to a transplant and then develop methods for detecting the cells in transplant recipients. We hope that the information obtained from this study will allow strategies for monitoring the development of tolerance to the organ donor to be used to help transplant patients in the future.