New nano-immunotherapy promotes long-term acceptance of transplanted organs

Researchers at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine have developed a new nanotechnology-based immunotherapy that promotes long-term transplant acceptance in an animal model.

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The development, which is described in the journal Immunity, could transform patient care and provide a solution to the problems that stand in the way of successful transplant outcomes.

If this can be successfully translated to the clinic, this may eliminate the need for lifelong, continuous immunosuppressive medication and provide a promising solution for successful organ transplantation”

Jordi Ochando, study author

A transplanted organ is rejected by the body when innate immune cells called myeloid cells induce T-cells to attack it. To prevent this immune response, patients must take drugs that suppress this T-cell activity, but this dampening down of the patient’s immune system leaves them vulnerable to infection and cancer. The patients also have to take more than a dozen pills every day for the remainder of their lives.

Now, Ochando and colleagues have developed a nano-immunotherapy that targets myeloid cells and prevents their activation and their triggering of T-cells. The T-cells are unaffected by the therapy and maintain their usual function, but without attacking the transplanted organ.

Instead of suppressing the effects of organ transplantation (activated T-cells), we are preventing the cause (myeloid cell activation) in a highly specific yet short-term fashion. It's a completely different approach that can be employed to other conditions that are characterized by maladaptive trained immunity, such as autoimmune and cardiovascular diseases,"

Willem Mulder, co-author.

In a mouse model, the authors found that 100 days after heart transplant, mice that were given the nano-immunotherapy but no standard anti-rejection therapy had accepted the transplant. All mice that did not receive either therapy rejected the transplant within ten days and all mice that received only the standard drugs rejected the transplant within 50 days.

Mulder says the team hopes the new nano-immunotherapy can eventually become the standard of care for organ transplant recipients, eliminating the need for medication and further treatment.

“It may increase the success rate of organ transplantation and makes it safer and easier process for patients," he concludes.

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