New Therapy to Facilitate Kidney Transplant for Patients With Antigen-related Problems

by Gopalan on Jul 20 2008 9:55 AM

The Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles says a new therapy has been evolved to facilitate kidney transplant for patients with antigen-related problems.

The therapy may provide an option for those who are "sensitized" to transplant antigens and hence wouldn't be eligible for transplants.

For such people tend to develop antibodies, and when a donor organ with the antigens is transplanted, the antibodies respond, increasing the risk of rejection.

Hence antibodies to human leukocyte antigens HLA are considered an absolute bar to a transplant because of rejection risks, researchers said in a press release.

But Cedars-Sinai has developed a new protocol, now in trial, combining intravenous gamma globulin and rituximab, a monoclonal antibody, that helps to desensitize highly sensitive patients, said Dr. Stanley Jordan, director of the Division of Nephrology and medical director of the Renal Transplant Program at Cedars-Sinai.

"Patients who are on dialysis and those who are progressing toward renal failure should be considered for a kidney transplant," Jordan said. "However, for the highly sensitized patient, transplantation is not an option unless desensitization therapies are used."

Up to 30 percent of the 74,000 patients waiting for kidney transplants have such a sensitivity, according to the study, as per the study appearing in the New England Journal of Medicine. Kidney transplants are only attempted on about 6.5 percent of such patients, but most remain on dialysis because the procedure is unsuccessful.

"From a quality-of-life perspective, as well as from the financial standpoint, transplantation is a much better option than years of dialysis," said Dr. Stanley C. Jordan.

However, Cedars is one of the few transplant centers in the nation that offers the therapy, which means many potential candidates are denied transplants, the study said.