The findings made by Minnie Sarwal, MD, PhD, a pediatric nephrologist at Packard Children’s is a major advantage in organ transplantation treatment. Transplant recipients who share the same pattern of genes but are still on conventional medication may be able to reduce or eliminate their lifelong dependence on immunosuppressive drugs. The study may also help physicians determine how best to induce acceptance, or tolerance, of donor organs in all transplant patients, regardless of their gene expression profiles.
Although the anti-rejection medications, known as immunosuppressants, tamp down the immune system enough to permit lifesaving organ transplants, their benefits come at a price. They also quash the body ’ s natural response to dangerous invaders, such as bacteria and viruses, and to rogue cancer cells. Transplant physicians prescribing immunosuppressants to their patients walk a fine line between avoiding organ rejection and increasing the risk of infection and cancer
The researchers used microarray, or gene chip, technology to compare gene expression patterns in blood samples from 16 healthy volunteers with those from three groups of adult kidney transplant recipients from the United States, Canada and France