Most Chronic Kidney Disease patients who are actively looking for a Kidney Transplant right now as well as those who have already received their gift of life know that a Transplanted Kidney has an expiration date. According to the University of Iowa, "On average, transplanted kidneys last between 10 and 12 years." Sadly, many fail much sooner than that, however, and now Northwestern University has identified a treatment that very well may allow a Kidney Transplant to "last as long as you need it."
This exciting news comes with the understanding of the unfortunate irony that the very powerful Immunosuppressant Drugs that help ramp down (weaken) the immune system so a patient’s own body won’t reject their new foreign kidney, also largely contributes to the Donated Kidney's failure.
Hence, although they perform a life-sustaining function, Immunosuppressant medications also come with a kidney- and life-threatening risk. Lead researcher, Dr. Joseph Leventhal said, “They can increase your risk of certain infections, they can increase your risk of certain cancers and they are imperfect. Over time the immune system can still react against the organ, and we see something called chronic rejection.”
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The ultimate goal is clear: Greatly reduce or entirely eliminate the need for the toxic Anti-Rejection Drugs for Kidney Transplant Recipients. This simple change will allow more people to sustain their Kidney Transplants for longer, decrease the amount of people on the Kidney Transplant Waiting List, and reduce wait times for Chronic Kidney Disease patients who desire a Kidney Transplant. Northwestern University suggests that its new treatment can do just that.
Researchers at the University are trying to use the patient’s own immune system regulatory cells (T-cells) to do the job in a way that would hopefully eliminate entirely or significantly the need for drug based immunosuppression. Basically, blood is drawn from a patient before transplant and then T-cells are separated out and replicated. Sixty (60) days later they are transplanted directly back into the patient.
The good news is that this is not just a breakthrough in theory which is sitting on a shelf somewhere in a lab. No - Northwestern researchers have already begun phase 1 implementation into a recent transplant recipient to confirm that this treatment in fact can work. Dr. Leventhal stated, “What we hope we can do is turn the situation where it’s one kidney for the life of the individual. You get that transplant and through better control of the immune system and through avoiding the side effects of the drugs, it will give you a kidney that will last for as long as you need it.”
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