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New Discovery May End Transplant Rejection

Soulskill posted more than 5 years ago | from the time-to-get-that-extra-liver-you've-always-wanted dept.

Medicine 201

mmmscience writes with this excerpt from the Examiner: "Big news in the medical world: scientists in Australia have found a way to stop the body from attacking organ transplants, greatly decreasing the possibility of organ rejection. ... When a new tissue is introduced, one's immune system kicks into overdrive, sending out cells known as killer T cells to attack and destroy the unknown tissue. ... Professor Jonathan Sprent and Dr. Kylie Webster from Sydney's Garvan Institute of Medical Research focused on a different type of T cells — known as regulatory T cells (Treg) — in this study. Tregs are capable of quieting the immune system, stopping the killer T cells from seeking out and attacking foreign objects."

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w00t!! (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27502463)

So now I can upgrade my genitalia safely??

Re:w00t!! (5, Funny)

SimonGhent (57578) | more than 5 years ago | (#27502677)

Well, you can, but that would be like having a Core2Duo for just reading emails...

Re:w00t!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27502805)

I use Emacs to read emails, you insensitive clod!

Re:w00t!! (4, Funny)

MadKeithV (102058) | more than 5 years ago | (#27502973)

I'm glad that joke didn't swing the other way.

Re:w00t!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27503521)

I swing the other way, you insensitive clod!

Re:w00t!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27502909)

Well, you can, but that would be like having a Core2Duo for just reading emails...

What kind of boring sex life do you have?

Re:w00t!! (5, Funny)

alx5000 (896642) | more than 5 years ago | (#27503163)

Yeah... or buying a SUV to get your groceries. Oh, wait...

So they're doing another type of immunosupression? (4, Insightful)

Chas (5144) | more than 5 years ago | (#27502483)

Okay, what does that do for fighting off infection then?

It's not like there's a magical component to this that identifies the transplanted material as "good" and infectious agents as "bad".

Re:So they're doing another type of immunosupressi (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27502505)

Aids

Re:So they're doing another type of immunosupressi (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27502681)

But it only is needed for 2-3 weeks, according to the article. Just long enough for the body to accept the new cells, after that they let things go back to normal, which would allow the body to attach infectious agents.

Re:So they're doing another type of immunosupressi (4, Interesting)

furby076 (1461805) | more than 5 years ago | (#27503119)

And in those 2-3 weeks they keep the person in a steril room devoid of any potential bacteria/virus' that could harm the person.

Hopefully they will be able to run positive clinical trials in the future. So far this is only effective on mice on relatively simple procedures (skin grafts, and pancreatic transfers). Kidneys, hearts, lungs are huge deals. I'm assuming if this hurdle is passed the doner would only need to have a blood-type match? That would be awesome and would make the waiting list that much simpler.

Re:So they're doing another type of immunosupressi (3, Insightful)

interkin3tic (1469267) | more than 5 years ago | (#27504211)

And in those 2-3 weeks they keep the person in a steril room devoid of any potential bacteria/virus' that could harm the person.

Depending on the transplant, you're probably not going to want to do anything other than lie in a bed during that time anyway.

Re:So they're doing another type of immunosupressi (2, Insightful)

afidel (530433) | more than 5 years ago | (#27504371)

Yes, but a complete isolation environment is MUCH more expensive than a normal ICU which is MUCH more expensive than a recovery room which is MUCH more expensive than outpatient followup visits. Basically the cost for two weeks in isolation is probably in the mid 6 figure range vs high 5 to low 6 figures for the procedures.

Re:So they're doing another type of immunosupressi (4, Informative)

Thansal (999464) | more than 5 years ago | (#27502699)

The idea (as I understand it) is this:

1) Immunosuppressants not only lower your defenses but are also toxic (as with many drugs).

2) I assume the treatment is either non-toxic, or at least not as bad for you.

3) Not sure about this: I think that people need to take immunosuppressants for a LONG time after the transplant, thus pumping in toxins AND keeping the defenses low, where as this idea is a one time thing you do before the transplant and are then done with.

The wording also makes it sound like the rejection rate is lower than usual, I am unsure if this is true or not.

So yes, you still have the lowered defenses, but with out the toxins, and possibly for a shorter time.

Re:So they're doing another type of immunosupressi (3, Informative)

x2A (858210) | more than 5 years ago | (#27503235)

"3) Not sure about this: I think that people need to take immunosuppressants for a LONG time after the transplant"

AFAIK ('tho there're bound to be exceptions maybe?) - you take them for as long as you don't want your immune system to attack the new organ, which'll basically be, for the rest of your life.

Re:So they're doing another type of immunosupressi (3, Interesting)

tjonnyc999 (1423763) | more than 5 years ago | (#27503871)

1.) Correct.
2.) Also correct.
Immunosuppressant drugs, besides increasing the risk of infection and cancer, also screw with the kidneys, liver, and pancreas. So besides the fun 1-2 punch of increased risk of infection post-surgery and having a weaker immune system to fight it with, you can also have a delightful bouquet of metabolic issues to go with it. This treatment seems to take the "traffic control" route, instead of mass-nuking the entire T-cell population.
3.) If the rejection is hyperacute (immediate) or acute (several days to weeks after transplant), it's treatable. Chronic rejection, though, is irreversible and requires a lifetime of immunosuppressants. Exception: if bone marrow can also be transplanted, this effectively replaces the recipient's immune system with the donor's, so there is no rejection.

Overall, this looks pretty damn promising. If they could also figure out what happened with Demi-Lee Brennan, we'd be well on our way to Bioshock-style instant upgrades :D

Re:So they're doing another type of immunosupressi (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27504111)

3) Not sure about this: I think that people need to take immunosuppressants for a LONG time after the transplant, thus pumping in toxins AND keeping the defenses low, where as this idea is a one time thing you do before the transplant and are then done with.

My father had a lung transplant about 5 years ago. You have to take the immunosuppressants forever with any inner body transplant (like heart, kidney, lung, etc). The immunosuppressants are quite good, but their side effects are significant and effect the life of a person. My father had to take significant amounts of pills daily at very specific times for everything to work properly. The pills also place quite a strain on the kidneys.

Bizarrely enough, that's what eventually killed him. The doctors (who, BTW, were outstanding) switched him to an immunosuppressant that was less stressful on his kidneys. The new drug had one very rare side effect that would eventually cause death. Dumb father didn't tell them he was having problems with new drug until it was too late and his body rejected the lung killing him. But Dad got 5 extra years that we wouldn't have had otherwise.

And the article is wrong about one point. The biggest problem for transplant recipients is not the drugs themselves. I.E. the effects on the body. That's bad. What's worse is the cost of the drugs and all the associated aftercare. The costs of the drugs are so great that unless one has a quite good insurance policy or a small fortune, your going to lose just about one's entire worth to pay for drugs. To me that's the second great advantage to this finding.

BTW, if anyone out there is looking for an outstanding lung transplant program, the program at Cedar Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles is fantastic. The doctors are great, the support staff is first rate, and the care they give you is outstanding.

Re:So they're doing another type of immunosupressi (1)

compro01 (777531) | more than 5 years ago | (#27504163)

IANAMD, but I'm fairly sure the immunosuppressants are needed for the rest of the recipient's life.

Re:So they're doing another type of immunosupressi (1)

blondie.xo (1527639) | more than 5 years ago | (#27504255)

I still like, don't get it..

Re:So they're doing another type of immunosupressi (4, Informative)

element-o.p. (939033) | more than 5 years ago | (#27504413)

3) Not just a LONG time -- for as long as you have the transplant.

I got a kidney transplant in 1995, and I will be on anti-rejection drugs until either 1) I die, 2) something better comes along that doesn't require anti-rejection meds anymore (<crosses fingers>), 3) or I reject the kidney and it is removed.

Re:So they're doing another type of immunosupressi (5, Funny)

blueg3 (192743) | more than 5 years ago | (#27502737)

If only there was a linked article that addressed these questions!

Re:So they're doing another type of immunosupressi (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27502801)

Okay, what does that do for fighting off infection then?

I didn't RTFA.

Chemotherapy makes your body extremely susceptible to infection. The risk is often lowered by taking extra precautions and staying in the hospital during treatments. You could likely do the same thing here.

Lets face it, this can't suppress your immune system anymore than chemo does. Sure, those 4 weeks might suck, but I guess it's the price to pay for eliminating the risk of rejection.

Will this work for stem cell transplants??

Re:So they're doing another type of immunosupressi (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27503177)

I think you missed the point (or perhaps there was some sarcasm there). They are purposely trying to suppress the immune system to prevent acute rejection.

Essentially a recipients body detects that the new tissue is foreign (HLA antigen mismatch; not magic) and dispatches agents in a big cascaded response to deal with the foreign material. The response generally results in structural damage and necrosis (death) within the transplanted tissue graft and ultimately graft rejection.

If they can prevent this attack for a long enough period of time natural processes within the recipient can repair and reinforce the new tissue and the patient can be treated with other drugs to minimise or mitigate the response to the tissue graft.

And yes, even though recipients will still be required to take suppressants for the remainder of their life it sure beats the alternative.

Re:So they're doing another type of immunosupressi (1)

Scragglykat (1185337) | more than 5 years ago | (#27503665)

Wow, this seems like it would be a good way for some miscreant to start passing around some diseases that we would normally fight off, and start some epidemics, by nullifying our body's means of defense. It's like reverse War of the Worlds. I guess it'd be one way to allow for symbiotic partnerships with parasites too... mmm...

Bald guys rejoice? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27502495)

I can't seem to string a sentence together so let me just throw out a few words. Balding, autoimmune disease, save what's left of your scalp, finasteride, rogaine. 1. Stop hair follicles from being attacked by your own immune system. 2. Make them into pills. 3. ?????? 4. Profit!

Stop Tregz (0)

NtwoO (517588) | more than 5 years ago | (#27502503)

So all these guys did, was stop Tregz. Since the discovery of this giant gecho we knew that it was an aggressive beast.

Organlegging (4, Interesting)

Maximum Prophet (716608) | more than 5 years ago | (#27502519)

This will make organlegging possible. If you can just grab any kidney off the street and use it to replace a failing one, people will.

Re:Organlegging (2, Funny)

Idiomatick (976696) | more than 5 years ago | (#27502551)

People selling organs could already do that. It just makes the storage space needed smaller.

Re:Organlegging (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27502799)

why limit it to replacing failing ones? Mine are fairly old and looking pretty beat up, I'd like some new ones. Hell while we're at it why not put 4 in there, just in case.

Re:Organlegging (1)

immakiku (777365) | more than 5 years ago | (#27502839)

I think you missed the memo that even if you can take organ transplants more easily, you still can't find organs more easily.

Re:Organlegging (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27502883)

I think he's talking about harvesting hobos.

Re:Organlegging (3, Informative)

Animaether (411575) | more than 5 years ago | (#27502897)

You missed the GP poster who was referring to the act of people effectively abducting humans for the sole purpose of harvesting their organs. In the case of kidneys they could take 1, leave the remaining one be, and send the poor sod on their way, but more likely the person would simply be killed and their organs sold to the highest bidder.

The only reason that doesn't happen so much now (except potentially in China, to an extent) is due to the whole organ rejection thing. No good putting 'Type X' kidneys on the market if all your prospective clients within a reasonable distance need 'Type Y'.. and short of getting medical records on everybody, you can't see on the outside what type organ the person has.

With that out of the way, let the random killings and organ harvests begin.

( 'Organlegging'.. *sigh* Niven. )

Re:Organlegging (4, Funny)

clam666 (1178429) | more than 5 years ago | (#27503743)

The only reason that doesn't happen so much now (except potentially in China, to an extent) is due to the whole organ rejection thing. No good putting 'Type X' kidneys on the market if all your prospective clients within a reasonable distance need 'Type Y'.. and short of getting medical records on everybody, you can't see on the outside what type organ the person has.

Shows how much you know. Just like with any other product, you need to create demand. For example, show how your "Type X" kidney is better compared to the inferior "Type Y" kidney in a consumer taste test. Focus on viral marketing and product placement in movies. Leak that Tupac used "Type X" kidneys because he was from the street and keepin' it real. Have a cross marketing campaign with Nike for some "TypeX-treme" shoes at $250 a pair. Have Disney create a new loveable kidney based character in their new movies. Link "Type Y" kidneys to George Bush.

If all else fails, try to get a piece of the latest economic meltdown. Bundle any excess inventory into "Type X Kidney Security Derivatives" and apply for TARP funds. Get some lobbyists.

If they don't give you any money, corner the market by making them a loss-leader. Pick up the delta by bumping the price on the anti-rejection drugs.

It's time to think outside the box people.

Re:Organlegging (2, Informative)

Cyberax (705495) | more than 5 years ago | (#27504085)

Probably, we'll soon be able to grow artificial organs from IPSC (Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells). So the whole question might become moot very fast.

As it happened in Niven's Universe :)

Re:Organlegging (2, Informative)

jeff4747 (256583) | more than 5 years ago | (#27504235)

No good putting 'Type X' kidneys on the market if all your prospective clients within a reasonable distance need 'Type Y'

Actually, that's not true. With kidneys and a few other organs, no typing is necessary before hand. The immunosuppressants are so good these days that a completely non-matching kidney is just fine.

There's some other tissues that for various reasons still requires a close match

Re:Organlegging (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 5 years ago | (#27503061)

Or perhaps just more lucrative. There are, at least, stories of stolen organs out there.

On the other hand, if it reduces rejection that much, it also makes legitimate organs more available/useful.

Re:Organlegging (1)

interkin3tic (1469267) | more than 5 years ago | (#27504305)

This will make organlegging possible. If you can just grab any kidney off the street and use it to replace a failing one, people will.

Or it might make xenografts (transplanting animal organs into humans) possible, I couldn't tell from the article. Which I guess PETA and other nutjobs would argue is still organlegging...

Anyway, you're right to point out that every new technology has benefits but also downsides. However, keep in mind that now if you wake up in a bath of ice and a note saying "thanks for your kidneys," all you'll have to do is steal someone else's, you won't have to steal it back from the person who stole it from you.

has its drawbacks? (0)

v1 (525388) | more than 5 years ago | (#27502525)

stopping the killer T cells from seeking out and attacking foreign objects."

So is this basically just shutting the immune system off? Wouldn't that cause serious problems, unless you're a "boy in a bubble"?

I'll admit that not having a liver is a more immediate problem than not having an immune system, but both should be terminal conditions shouldn't they?

Re:has its drawbacks? (4, Funny)

SimonGhent (57578) | more than 5 years ago | (#27502579)

I'll admit that not having a liver is a more immediate problem than not having an immune system, but both should be terminal conditions shouldn't they?

In the end, yes.

Re:has its drawbacks? (1)

Idiomatick (976696) | more than 5 years ago | (#27502609)

Temporary.

Re:has its drawbacks? (2, Informative)

TinBromide (921574) | more than 5 years ago | (#27502901)

The T cells go into over drive when a new organ is transplanted. The moderating T cells stop that overdrive, keeping things "Normal".

Re:has its drawbacks? (2, Insightful)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 5 years ago | (#27502999)

Basically life is a terminal condition, resulting in death in every verifyable recorded sample.

I guess it's a matter of magnitude. I.e. whether you die now or then.

Re:has its drawbacks? (1)

ElizabethGreene (1185405) | more than 5 years ago | (#27503425)

It sounds like you've grasped the concept of death pretty soundly. All of those "dead" people are the control group for an experiment, would you like to be in the experiment group [cryonics.org] instead?

Full Disclosure: I am a funded option 2 member of the Cryonics Institute.

Re:has its drawbacks? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27504043)

No, not even close--well over 5% of all people who have ever lived have never died. There's no sound basis on which to claim that life is terminal.

Wait.... (0, Redundant)

Random2 (1412773) | more than 5 years ago | (#27502543)

So, we're effectively giving the person temporary AIDS? Although, thinking about it, if we know how to give someone AIDS, we might know ho

Re:Wait.... (3, Informative)

Thansal (999464) | more than 5 years ago | (#27502881)

I assume you were goign to say "we might know how to reverse it".

The answer is fairly simple:
We are giving (and have been for a long time) people something like AIDS, not AIDS itself as that is a condition directly linked to HIV (even though the name makes it sound like it would be any time when you acquire a immune deficiency). It isn't AIDS we need a treatment for, it is HIV.

Re:Wait.... (2, Informative)

scubamage (727538) | more than 5 years ago | (#27503013)

Further, from what I'm gathering they're talking about adding cells. Adding cells is far different from an active virus. A virus will continue to inject its genetic material into every cell it can so long as it exists. In the case of HIV, that's pretty much indefinite. Cells on the other hand will have an active period, and eventually perish. So I'm guessing after being given a dose there will be a halflife and the effects will taper off accordingly. It is like a mini-infection of HIV though, very interesting work. Maybe we'll luck out and get some insight into how situations that are analogous to an HIV infection behave to gain some better insight into the real thing?

Re:Wait.... (2, Insightful)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 5 years ago | (#27503037)

Being able to put something into a system does not mean you're able to take it out of the system again. A good example would probably be rabbits in Australia.

Re:Wait.... (1)

tjonnyc999 (1423763) | more than 5 years ago | (#27503941)

Except those rabbits would have a pre-programmed internal self-destruct timer. Other than that, great analogy. Hint: apoptosis.

About to donate... (5, Interesting)

jdpars (1480913) | more than 5 years ago | (#27502565)

As someone about to donate a kidney this summer, I really hope they work on this research more. Donor matching is incredibly difficult, and the risk of rejection poses issues not only with the health of the recipient (though that's obviously the major issue), but also with the psychological health of the donor. A failed donation can make you feel like crap.

Re:About to donate... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27502913)

Well the good news is a failed kidney donation is something that will only damage the donor psychologically once.

so how much money do you get for that? (0)

tjstork (137384) | more than 5 years ago | (#27503183)

As someone about to donate a kidney this summer, I really hope they work on this research mo

Just out of curiosity...how much you getting from that?

Re:so how much money do you get for that? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27503249)

Do you know what "donate" means?

Re:so how much money do you get for that? (1)

reashlin (1370169) | more than 5 years ago | (#27503559)

Do politicians?

Re:About to donate... (1)

Alzheimers (467217) | more than 5 years ago | (#27503353)

A failed donation can make you feel like crap

So can a successful one. [wikia.com]

Use a Vat Instead (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27502599)

We need to stop pushing money into immune-suppressing options for transplants. Put the funding into the regeneration/growth of replacement organs instead.
Grow a new liver from your own cells & DNA, voila, no problems with rejection.

Re:Use a Vat Instead (2, Insightful)

whiledo (1515553) | more than 5 years ago | (#27503087)

Can't we do both? You know, eggs and baskets and all that.

Re:Use a Vat Instead (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27503793)

Yeah, but some baskets (the keywords in the OP were immune-suppressing) tend to break the eggs. I'm guessing that was the OP's issue.

But someone will [very] probably still find private funds to research it anyway, so ... I guess the eggs & baskets theory holds.

Re:Use a Vat Instead (1)

mea37 (1201159) | more than 5 years ago | (#27503655)

We should ignore a solution that can be brought about in the relative near term because a different solution, if it is ever proven to work, might eventually turn out to be better?

Tell that to the families of those who die in the mean time while we're figuring out whether a "grow-your-own" approach is even workable.

More complex transplants will be routine? (0, Redundant)

Bearhouse (1034238) | more than 5 years ago | (#27502615)

Sounds interesting: "The numbers of T regulatory cells dropped over time, and the immune systems returned to normal in about two weeks. By that time 80% of the mice had accepted the grafts of insulin producing cells as their own."

OK, so it's for cells in mice, not organs in humans, but still if they can reduce or stop using the rather toxic immuno-supressive drugs now required, that would be big progress.

Expecially in the light of the expanding scope of transplants, (limbs and even the whole faces now...)

Re:More complex transplants will be routine? (1)

slyrat (1143997) | more than 5 years ago | (#27502949)

Sounds interesting: "The numbers of T regulatory cells dropped over time, and the immune systems returned to normal in about two weeks. By that time 80% of the mice had accepted the grafts of insulin producing cells as their own."

One thing this does show, though, is that this could easily cure type one diabetics. So even if it only works in this scenario they have discovered something. I am hoping it gets somewhere since I would love to no longer have insulin dependent diabetes.

Re:More complex transplants will be routine? (2, Insightful)

nyctopterus (717502) | more than 5 years ago | (#27503787)

Yeah, people always think hearts, kidneys and livers when you start talking about transplants, but insulin producing cells would be HUGE. Type 1 is the most common childhood chronic illness [bmj.com] , and types 1&2 is affect nearly 3% of the population.

Great News! (3, Funny)

cybrthng (22291) | more than 5 years ago | (#27502627)

Now i can just keep smoking knowing my new lungs will fit in no problem! /s

Re:Great News! (2, Funny)

immakiku (777365) | more than 5 years ago | (#27502755)

Bad news: your would-be donor started chain smoking, thinking he'd easily get a lung replacement, and developed cancer even faster than you did.

Re:Great News! (1)

tjonnyc999 (1423763) | more than 5 years ago | (#27503965)

But then, the Tleilaxu delivered a boatload of new lungs, and all was well again.

Autoimmune Diseases (2, Interesting)

Twide (1142927) | more than 5 years ago | (#27502687)

by providing some sort of prevention, could this research help with autoimmune diseases like type 1 diabeties?

Re:Autoimmune Diseases (1)

slyrat (1143997) | more than 5 years ago | (#27503437)

by providing some sort of prevention, could this research help with autoimmune diseases like type 1 diabeties?

The article did just that with the mice. They implanted insulin producing islet cells for the test.

...if... (4, Insightful)

hehman (448117) | more than 5 years ago | (#27502709)

TFA and TF summary are missing the "if"s.

Yes this could be a big deal, someday, if the finding holds up for other mammals (a big one), if it works for different kinds of transplants, if it's repeatable, if there are no other major consequences, if human trials are successful, if if if.

Failure to include the "if"s is misleading at best and irresponsible at worst, for giving possibly false hope to those dealing with transplant rejection.

Re:...if... (3, Informative)

blueg3 (192743) | more than 5 years ago | (#27503019)

Actually, the article includes most of those.

Re:...if... (1)

Thanshin (1188877) | more than 5 years ago | (#27503143)

You forgot:

"If the rules of physics are constant and don't just change completely every couple hundred billion years, being the next change tomorrow at 17:00."

False Hope (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27503211)

Speaking as a heart transplant recipient, I don't think there is any such thing as 'false hope' in this regard. We have already experienced rock bottom. Any breakthrough of this kind is exciting, and I hope that many of us will live long enough to expereince the benefit it offers.

Re:...if... (1)

BigDukeSix (832501) | more than 5 years ago | (#27503717)

The technique is interesting. The normal body reaction to a new antigen is to form antibodies, which bind to and mark the antigen for destruction (in this case, transplanted pancreatic islet cells, which would cure diabetes). Currently in transplant medicine, that response is dampened by large doses of steroids at the time of transplant, followed by lifelong immunosuppression.

The authors hypothesized that all of those circulating antibody-antigen complexes might shut down further antibody production for a short period of time, as a normal protective mechanism (too many complexes are known to be toxic to lung and kidney). They induced this condition and then performed the transplant. Eighty percent graft survival with no further immunosuppression is pretty remarkable, especially since they demonstrate that the host immune response seems to return to normal quite quickly.

As you say, a bunch of ifs, but this technique as described is readily reproducible in any medical school immunology lab.

This (2, Informative)

esocid (946821) | more than 5 years ago | (#27502845)

is just a different method of immunosuppression. Under the use of cyclosporin it actually reduces the functionality of the immune system, which I think is more dangerous than what this new method describes. This one will more or less silence the immune system, but leave it intact. This seems better since you can always turn it back on if it is necessary, at least that's what I got from TFA. But of course:

"We have yet to determine exactly how the complex works. Once we do, I believe a clinical trial of this very non-toxic agent would be worthwhile."

Re:This (1)

Abcd1234 (188840) | more than 5 years ago | (#27503491)

is just a different method of immunosuppression.

Yes, but with one *vital* difference: when the immune system comes back online, it doesn't attack the transplanted tissue. Last I checked, cyclosporin didn't work that way. So this is more than just a little "better" than your average immunosuppressant. It could be a potential revolution in the area of tissue transplantation.

Awesome (1)

geoffrobinson (109879) | more than 5 years ago | (#27502879)

My father died of aggressive cancer a year after a kidney transplant. If they found a way to stop immune suppression after a short period, that would be wonderful.

moD down (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27502963)

eoveryd4y...We [goat.cx]

Good news for my work (4, Funny)

moteyalpha (1228680) | more than 5 years ago | (#27502975)

I have been having problems with my hyperalloy combat chassis rejecting the external skin tissue overlays. I am making kill^H^H^H^H pet robots and this is just the trick I needed,

Allergies? (5, Interesting)

MBoDot (1392501) | more than 5 years ago | (#27502977)

I wonder if this could help in regards to allergies? I.e. stop the immune system from "reacting" too much?

Re:Allergies? (1)

whiledo (1515553) | more than 5 years ago | (#27503155)

Admittedly, I haven't read the article, but I have read comments by people who apparently have.

I think it wouldn't work for allergies because the (very simplified) method with the new drug is this:

  1. Give drug to patient.
  2. Immune system shuts down
  3. Replace organ
  4. New drug wears off
  5. Immune system reboots, assumes that all tissues currently in body belong there

The problem with allergies is that you're continually taking foreign substances into your body, not just a single time.

Re:Allergies? (1)

MBoDot (1392501) | more than 5 years ago | (#27503265)

True, this seems to be "on or off" and not reduce or decrease the ablility of the immune system to react... thx

Re:Allergies? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27503351)

Not to mention the fact that supressing the immune system is a BAD IDEA when the bed bugs start biting.

Re:Allergies? (1)

yuri82 (236251) | more than 5 years ago | (#27504401)

You can do train your body to react to the allergens the same way they react to things you are not allergic to. Psychologically. Don't try it on allergies that are fatal. See books by Robert Dilts.

Nobel? (1)

RockoTDF (1042780) | more than 5 years ago | (#27502995)

Looks like someone is getting a free trip to Sweden in the future...

The irony of the Nobel Prize (1)

tjstork (137384) | more than 5 years ago | (#27503199)

Is that, if it wasn't for the big pile of explosives money they put on the table, nobody would give a shit.

Cue Niven's criminal justice system (1)

John Guilt (464909) | more than 5 years ago | (#27503185)

What's the life of one dangerous repeat traffic violator (or copyright infringer, yes I saw your hand up, Mr Jeter, put it down now) against all the people her organs could save?

More realistically*, you could have an intermediate state---we won't take you apart, but we won't give you any transplants, either---better add 'or let you vote' for first-order stability.

(Both systems actually suffer from the fact that people killed in this way may have friends and families...although people who die for lack of a transplant have them two, but one is much more direct and complaint-genic than the other.)

* ...which is not the same as 'realistically'

bio-weapon (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27503233)

turning off the immune-system, looks like a possible biological weapon for me.

Tissue Rejection (2, Interesting)

hackus (159037) | more than 5 years ago | (#27503317)

Is caused by the immune system not recognizing a foreign invader, the organ being transplanted.

No?

Then this guy wants to turn off that ability in the body?

Yes?

Historically speaking, whenever doctors have taken that approach it results in massive infection, and usually heart and lung problems.

You would think after so many complications from transplants, they would stop pursuing that direction.

Adult stem cell research seems to be the best approach to me. Same tissue so no rejection, and they do not have all of the problems fetal cells have. (i.e. Fetal stem cells have a nasty habit of becoming tumors.)

Somehow, Adult stem cells "know" what to do and when to stop growing appropriately much better than fetal stem cells when considering tissue regeneration in heart attack patients for example.

Not that doctors understand any of this process, but why they continue to invest so much money in transplant research is baffling. The quality of life for people financially and medically sucks for current transplant recipients.

-Hack

Re:Tissue Rejection (1)

IndustrialComplex (975015) | more than 5 years ago | (#27503589)

We are a long way off from full organ replacement in the form of Adult Stem Cells. In the meantime, we have to make due with transplants. Understanding how our immune system works (and can be controlled) is still important research.

It isn't just tissue rejection. Lots of issues are caused by over-reaction by the immune system. Allergies are a good example. In fact, the gauze I have wrapped on my hand right now indicates that I would love a bit of reduction in my immune systems response.

But, there are much more serious conditions caused by overactive immune systems. One that comes to mind might be eclampsia (if the source is an immune response to the fetus). It is a condition where there is no known cure except for abortion or delivery.

Re:Tissue Rejection (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27503867)

Read the fucking article, moron. The whole point is that you might not have to be on those suppressants form very long.

Re:Tissue Rejection (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27503931)

Is caused by the immune system not recognizing a foreign invader, the organ being transplanted.

No?

Then this guy wants to turn off that ability in the body?

Yes?

If you have to ask these questions, you are most certainly not qualified to evaluate this work. Get back to us when you have a PhD in Immunology.

Hope not just yet (0, Redundant)

Corson (746347) | more than 5 years ago | (#27503343)

I really hope this doesn't work out too soon. Shocked? Let me explain: if the prevention of transplant rejection becomes possible before organ regeneration from stem cells becomes possible then every individual becomes a potential organ donor. Think war zones and third-world children with poor families. Actually, nobody would be safe.

Pre-Implants (1)

jlebrech (810586) | more than 5 years ago | (#27503401)

Could they not kick the immune system into overdrive a day before the actual transplant and when the immune system is not looking once it's tired out they could stick a new heart in there.

co34 (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27503537)

Regulatory T cells & Diabetes (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27503649)

I am curious if this can be directed to suppress specific types of autoimmune system types, such as the one that causes Type I Immune-mediated diabetes.

Successful organ transplants would be wonderful to replace the entire pancreas to restore the insulin-producing beta cells, but it is worth considering if there is any "preventative" applications for this discovery as well.

Horrible Article (5, Informative)

quantumghost (1052586) | more than 5 years ago | (#27503723)

While I am not a transplant surgeon I have worked on a surgical transplant service as part of my training. From my experience that first article has so many flaws in its description that it is not worth reading. I hope it does not reflect the original article.

For starters "killer T-cells" are usually referred to as NK-cells and they are NOT thought to be part of the normal rejection process (they do not require activation and thus would no be stopped by immunosuppresion). There are three types of rejection hyperacute (pre-formed antibodies attack the organ in minutes - the organ literally dies as soon as it is transplanted - this is avoided by the "matching" process), acute (where T-cells [not NK-cells] attack the organ since it is not "self" and therefore "bad" - this is where immunosuppresion helps) and chronic (the body slowly rejects by allowing fibrosis of the vessels leading to the organ).

Actual survival statics for all kidney allografts exceeds 95% today. 80% is quite a drop!

Grafts are not assumed to "take" after 100 days allowing us to stop immunosuppresion! Immunosuppression is currently LIFELONG. There are a few instances where people have tolerated a non-identical twin transplant without medications, but this is _very_ rare. There is active research into finding the key to allow "tolerance" whereby we can drop the medications, but this is still early.

IL-2 suppression is the _mainstay_ of current immunosuppressants both blocking its production via calcineurin ihibitors (cyclosporin and tacrolimus), inhibiting the response (sirolimus/rapamune), or by blocking the receptor with antibodies (basiliximab/daclizumab). (Please understand this is only about half of the therapies that are in use for immunosuppresion, I'm just focusing on the Il-2 aspect).

Just followed the second link and it is _much better_. Still, I strongly disagree with their assertions of 100 days, just doesn't happen in humans. Apparently this study is using IL-2 STIMULATION with a complex that attempts to increase the regulatory T-cells...To me this means that this treatment will not co-exist with the current immunopupression dogma... this means that they will have to have a "complete" replacement for immunosuppresion they won't be able to add this to the current regiment and that means this treatment protocol will be quite sometime in the pipeline. And (fortunately) the authors acknowledge that they are optimistic, but aren't rushing off to collect their Nobel yet:

I am also aware that effective approaches in mice do not necessarily give good results in humans because of subtle differences in the immune systems of mouse and man.

Misuse (1)

davegravy (1019182) | more than 5 years ago | (#27503769)

Sounds like a biological warfare weapon designer's wet dream.

What about auto-immune diseases (1)

bensafrickingenius (828123) | more than 5 years ago | (#27503829)

in which the body attacks itself? I'm thinking rheumatoid arthritis, lupus -- any chances those who suffer from these types of maladies should take hope at this news?

Finally... (1, Funny)

smooth wombat (796938) | more than 5 years ago | (#27503855)

we can stop having unkempt slobs in dark alleys offering us x-ray eyes when in reality they are the two better z-ray eyes. No more will we be be indecisive about replacing our lungs with gills so we can more easily breathe underwater.

All we need do is lie on the table and let the nice nurse with big hands hold us down while we feel a small pain.

Diabetes (1)

kwiecmmm (1527631) | more than 5 years ago | (#27504121)

Maybe I am misreading part of this article, but it says that "80% of the mice had accepted the grafts of insulin producing cells as their own". As a type 1 diabetic, I am looking at this as a possible cure for diabetes. I understand there are uses for this in organ transplants as well, but as a possible cure for diabetes this is huge.

problematic time-lag (1)

maquah (965242) | more than 5 years ago | (#27504385)

Mentioned in the original article, a problematic, potentially fatal time-lag for transplants involving any but living donors:

"We took normal, healthy mice, injected them for three consecutive days with the complex, then transplanted insulin-producing cells on the fourth day..."

Vital organs like hearts are 'harvested' from the dying, often people who are terminally brain-injured in motor vehicle accidents. Medical policies and procedures involving keeping such traumatically injured people 'alive' on 'life support' for four days hold complex layers of ethical issues for doctors and excruciatingly painful emotional issues for families of those donors fatally injured.

That isn't a 'nay' to improving pancreatic islet transplantation (which, in my understanding, does not generally kill the donor), but rather an urgent 'caution' and plea to biomedical researchers: proceed honestly, transparently, and with as much public awareness as humanly possible of unintended consequences.

Seems to me that, in general, re-envisioning our lifestyles, diets, and relationships with our planet, seeking healthier ways of being, is a far more viable long-term cure for many degenerative diseases, than heroic and often inaccessibly expensive treatments.
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