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Archive - Aug 5, 2019

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Long-Term, Anti-Rejection-Drug-Free Tolearance of Pancreas Islets Cells Induced by Apoptotic Donor Leukocytes in Non-Human Primates; Anti-Rejection Drugs Completely Discontinued 21 Days After Transplant

For decades, immunologists have been trying to train the transplant recipient's immune system to accept transplanted cells and organs without the long-term use of anti-rejection drugs. New University of Minnesota preclinical research shows that this is now possible. In a study published online on August 2, 2019 in Nature Communications, researchers at the University of Minnesota Medical School's Department of Surgery and Schulze Diabetes Institute, collaborating with colleagues at Northwestern University, have maintained long-term survival and function of pancreatic islet transplants despite complete discontinuation of all anti-rejection drugs on day 21 after the transplant. The open-access article is titled “Long-Term Tolerance of Islet Allografts in Nonhuman Primates Induced by Apoptotic Donor Leukocytes.” This study was performed in a stringent preclinical transplant setting in nonhuman primates, one step away from humans. For many patients with end-stage organ failure, transplantation is the only effective and remaining treatment option. To prevent transplant rejection, recipients must take medications long-term that suppress the body's immune system. These immunosuppressive drugs are effective at preventing rejection over the short term; however, because anti-rejection drugs suppress all of the immune system nonspecifically, people taking these drugs face the risk of serious infections and even cancer. Additionally, non-immunological side effects of immunosuppression, such as hypertension, kidney toxicity, diarrhea, and diabetes diminish the benefits of transplantation.