Transplantation without Immunosuppression
The Achilles heel in the long term care of any patient who undergoes transplantation is immunosuppression. The immune system of the person who receives organ transplantation (recipient) will perceive the new organ as foreign (as belonging to somebody else) and try to destroy it by a process called “rejection” wherein the recipient’s white blood cells and/or antibodies cause direct damage to the transplanted organ. In order to prevent rejection, transplant recipients are given medications that blunt the body’s immune response. These medications are called immunosuppresants. Immunosuppressant medications are non specific and lead to generalized decrease in body’s immune response.
Apart from preventing rejection of the new organ, these medications predispose the transplant recipient to infections and tumors. Some of immunosuppresant medications can also lead to damage to kidneys (sometimes requiring kidney transplantation) and diabetes mellitus.
Current attempts worldwide are towards minimizing immunosuppression or developing new medications that have a higher safety profile. However, the holy grail of transplantation would be ability to perform organ transplantation without any immunosuppression. At NFLR, we intent to promote research to explore the possibility of performing transplantation without immunosuppression.