MAR 14, 2016 10:54 AM PDT

Procedure Allows Kidney Transplant from Any Donor

WRITTEN BY: Xuan Pham
Johns Hopkins researchers found a new way to transplant kidney organs from any donor – regardless of compatibility, and they say it’s saving more lives than the conventional alternative of long-term dialysis while waiting for the right match.
 
Matching is not necessary with new kidney transplant technique

Every year, about 600,00 Americans are afflicted with end-stage kidney disease. Kidney transplantation is a potent fix, but there just aren’t enough donated kidneys to go around. In addition to the organ shortage, donors and recipients have to be matched for blood type and antigens combinations – another bottleneck that prevents many transplants from happening. Of the 101,189 patients that currently await a kidney transplant, only about 16% of them will receive the organ while about 4.4% die waiting for the operation.
 
To increase the organ supply available to patients on the transplant list, some researchers have turned to other animals as potential organ donors. Notably, the CRISPR/cas9 gene editing system has renewed xenotransplantation hopes for organs from pigs. However, this technology is still years away from the bedside for many patients.
 
With the same goal to increase the available organ supply, Johns Hopkins researchers took a different approach. Fifteen years ago, they started to develop a technique to quiet the recipient’s immune system so that any donor organ can become a match, regardless of HLA type. Now, an eight-year study evaluating this technique in 1,025 recipients finds higher survival benefit compared to those who remained on the waiting list.
 
The technique is known as desensitization, and involves external filtration of antibodies out of a patient’s blood. After the patient’s immune system regenerates new antibodies, doctors found this set of regenerated antibodies are less likely to attack the transplant organ. The exact mechanism behind this is still unknown, but it seems to work at saving lives.
 
In 1,025 adult incompatible live donor kidney transplant recipients from 22 centers across the U.S., researchers found consistently higher survival rates in comparison with the control groups, who remained on the waiting list. At the eight-year mark, 76.5 percent of those who had received the incompatible transplant were still alive, compared to 43.9 percent of those patients who were still on the waiting list.  
 
“For the first time, we have definitively shown that incompatible live donor kidney transplantation provides almost twice the survival of a patient’s next best option,” said Dorry Segev, professor of surgery at Johns Hopkins and lead author of the paper. "This is great news for patients who have healthy, willing live donors but who have been relegated to the waiting list because of HLA incompatibilities. Through this study, we now know that those donors can donate today, those transplants can happen and those lives can be saved.”
 
The estimated cost of desensitization is $30,000 and the transplant operation itself is about $100,000. Still, doctors say this upfront cost is cheaper than long-term dialysis, which costs about $70,000 each year.
 
Saving more lives at lower costs to the patients is arguable ultimate goal for medicine. And this is why many experts are calling this technique revolutionary. Already, desensitization is being explored for other organ transplants, like liver and lung.
 

Additional source: Johns Hopkins press release
About the Author
  • I am a human geneticist, passionate about telling stories to make science more engaging and approachable. Find more of my writing at the Hopkins BioMedical Odyssey blog and at TheGeneTwist.com.
You May Also Like
JUN 23, 2018
Clinical & Molecular DX
JUN 23, 2018
Algorithm-Based Blood Test Diagnoses Autism
As a developmental disorder, autism spectrum disorders (ASD) can be diagnosed as early as 18 to 24 months of age, but often the diagnosis does not come unt...
JUN 25, 2018
Microbiology
JUN 25, 2018
Gut Microbes Linked to Development of Liver Disease
The bacteria that live in our gut release compounds that might act as biomarkers, and may be a part of disease development....
JUL 13, 2018
Genetics & Genomics
JUL 13, 2018
Detecting Leukemia Before it Starts Growing
Researchers have found ways to identify people who may develop an aggressive type of blood cancer while they are still healthy....
AUG 08, 2018
Microbiology
AUG 08, 2018
Use of Probiotics Linked to Severe Bloating, Brain Fog
Gut bacteria can have a powerful effect on brain function....
NOV 01, 2018
Cell & Molecular Biology
NOV 01, 2018
Researchers Link Parkinson's Disease and the Appendix
When a person's appendix is removed early in life, it reduces their chances of getting Parkinson's disease....
NOV 29, 2018
Genetics & Genomics
NOV 29, 2018
Pet Genomics Might Need to be Leashed
Experts say genetic testing for pets is not quite ready for the market, but that hasn't stopped companies from selling tests....
Loading Comments...