Researchers at University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine have found a way to prolong kidney transplant survival in monkeys using donor dendritic cells (DCs). DCs are regulators of the immune system, responsible for both immune response and tolerance. In order to promote immune tolerance, the scientists prevented donor DCs from fully maturing and treated a group of monkeys with these cells a week before transplant. Afterward, the experimental group and a control group received the same immunosuppression drug treatment, designed to end in organ rejection. Transplants in monkeys treated with the dendritic cells lasted 113 days before rejection, while the transplants of the monkeys in the control group failed after about 40 days. Monkeys in the DC group were also healthier, with better weight, less protein in the urine, and fewer signs of kidney damage.
The researchers hope to try this technique with humans in future clinical trials and envision success with transplants from living kidney donors as well as deceased donors.