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Protective kidney wash developed

17th September 2010

Experts in the UK have developed a technique to significantly extend the life of a kidney transplant.

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The new method involves washing the organ in an engineered drug solution during the transfer from the donor to the recipient.

With fewer than 50% of transplants still working after a decade, the British Science Festival heard that the solution - which gives protection to the organ from the immune system - would almost double the life of a graft.

Researchers from the Medical Research Council (MRC) Centre for Transplantation at King's College London say the solution limits the action of a part of the immune system known as the "complement" system, which would normally attempt to destroy cells from intruder organisms such as a donor organ.

Under normal circumstances the “complement” response is regulated by protein molecules that sit on the surface of kidney cells but these are often lost or weakened during the trauma of transplant.

The MRC team created a substitute regulator protein under laboratory circumstances, known as Mirococept.

Clinical trials to establish the effectiveness of Mirococept have yet to begin.

Professor Steve Sacks from the MRC said: “If this work does translate into benefit in clinical practice, which we anticipate it would do - this would mean a greater use of donor organs that might otherwise not be used for transplantation. It would expand the donor pool.”

More than 7,000 patients are waiting for a kidney transplant in the UK and a fifth of those on the waiting list need a second transplant because their first graft has failed.

 

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