Dr. Kizhakkedathu and Dr. Siren working in a UBC lab (Paul Joseph/UBC)
Dr. Kizhakkedathu and Dr. Siren working in a UBC lab (Paul Joseph/UBC)

New UBC discovery could reduce rate of rejection for organ transplant patients

Discovery could remove the need for drugs used to prevent patients’ immune systems from attacking organs

University of B.C. researchers have developed a new polymer coating that could potentially reduce the rejection rate of transplanted organs.

The coating, developed by UBC medicine professor Dr. Jayachandran Kizhakkedathu’s team at the Centre for Blood Research and Life Sciences Institute, has been shown to drastically lower the rejection rate of transplants in mice.

The discovery could remove the need for drugs used to prevent patients’ immune systems from attacking newly transplanted organs.

“Blood vessels in our organs are protected with a coating of special types of sugars that suppress the immune system’s reaction, but in the process of procuring organs for transplant, these sugars are damaged and no longer able to transmit their message,” Dr. Kizhakkedathu said.

“We’re hopeful that this breakthrough will one day improve quality of life for transplant patients and improve the lifespan of transplanted organs.”

While the procedure has only been applied to arteries and kidneys in mice so far, researchers are optimistic that the polymer could be equally effective on lungs, hearts and other organs. Human trials are still potentially years away.


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