Experimental Post-Transplant Protocol May Eliminate Need for Immunosuppressants

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"Exciting" Development, But Will it Last?

"It's always exciting when a protocol like this comes out, but we need to look at it with larger numbers of people," said Teperman.

"It's also not clear if it will work with other solid organs, like the liver or the lungs," said Porayko.

Dr. George Burke, professor and director of Lillian Jean Kaplan Renal Transplantation Center at the University of Miami's Miller School of Medicine, said he's cautiously optimistic about the research. He believes future studies should address, among other things, the role of other types of immune cells called memory T cells.

He also expressed concern that news of this research could lead transplant patients to stop taking their immunosuppressants.

"If a patient who is doing well stops immunosuppressants, it's almost a guarantee that they will experience rejection and lose the transplant," he said.

Strober said the university is currently enrolling transplant recipients who are only partially matched with a donor to test how well the post-transplant regimen works in these patients.

If tolerance persists in kidney transplant patients over the long term, Strober said it would be an incredible medical advance.

"Patients who need transplants have had kidney failure, and the transplant procedure is a way to treat organ failure. If we can restore them to normal kidney function without drugs and they continue to do well, we can say in some way these people are cured of organ failure."

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