Organ transplantation is an effective treatment for a variety of diseases including kidney disease, liver disease, diabetes, heart disease, pulmonary disease, and gastrointestinal defects. The field has made remarkable strides in the last half-century, and the technical aspects of transplantation have greatly improved such that today, they are a relatively minor cause of graft and patient loss. However, immunologic rejection of transplanted organs continues to be a major cause of such loss.
In order to prevent the recipient body from rejecting the transplanted organs, patients must receive immunosuppressive drugs to inhibit activity of the immune system. Unfortunately, because these drugs are non-specific, the suppressed immune system is more susceptible to all kinds of infections and malignancies. There are also other significant side-effects of many immunosuppressive drugs, including high blood pressure, diabetes, and decrease in kidney function. For these reasons, there is a great need for the development of protocols to reliably achieve transplant-specific tolerance, which would prevent rejection and obviate the need for lifelong systemic immunosuppression. Providing anti-donor specific immunosuppression (commonly called "allo-specific transplant tolerance") without global immunosuppression is one of the major goals of transplantation research.
The Transplantation Research Lab comprises both basic scientific research and clinical studies in an effort to find viable solutions to the complex problem of rejection in human organ transplantation.