In an ongoing study, Northwestern Medicine and University of Louisville researchers have shown that it may be possible to eliminate the need for rejection drugs in kidney transplantation. The scientists paired living kidney donors with unrelated recipients with compatible blood type and a negative crossmatch. The kidney patients underwent radiation and chemotherapy treatments to prepare their bodies to receive specially processed bone marrow stem cells from their donors. Ideally, the stem cells grow in the patient’s marrow, creating a second bone marrow system. Patients received these stem cells one day after kidney transplantation and were eventually weaned off anti-rejection drugs after one year. Early results of the study are promising. The researchers hope that patients who are currently experiencing success will be able to stay off immunosuppressant drugs long-term. They plan to conduct a second study using patients with existing kidney transplants from living donors.
New Transplant Method May Allow Kidney Recipients to Live Life Free of Anti-Rejection Medication, Science Daily, March 11, 2012