Stanford study shows promise in weaning patients off anti-rejection drugs

It’s a given. Immunosuppressant medication is the cornerstone to successful organ transplant. Without it, a patient’s body would reject the transplanted organ, causing it to fail.

A new study shows that might not always be the case.

A short letter in the Oct. 6 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine tells of a small study at Stanford in which eight out of 12 kidney transplant patients were successfully weaned off of their immunosuppressants.

The patients were given a post-transplant regimen of radiation and donor stem cells, which temporarily blinded the body to the foreign tissue transplanted into it.

While the study is small, it gives hope that, eventually, transplant patients will no longer have to rely on daily medications (some of which can cause severe side effects, themselves) to keep them healthy.

Among those who would welcome a breakthrough in immune suppression therapy is Washington University nephrologist Daniel Brennan, MD, the medical director of kidney transplant at Barnes-Jewish Hospital.  Dr. Brennan is known in the transplant community as an innovator in the field of immunosuppression. Hear his take on his role in the transplant process.

-Kathryn Holleman

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