Pioneer hails giant step in transplants
Saturday 27 November 1999
The advance substantially reduces the need for anti-rejection drugs, which patients normally take for life, and paves the way for animal-to- human "xenografts", where rejection is the key obstacle.
Sir Roy Calne, emeritus professor of surgery at Cambridge University and a pioneer of transplant medicine, said the new treatment promises to produce dramatic improvements in the health of patients. "I've not seen a group of patients do as well as this in 40 years," he said. "Although I would never use the word `breakthrough', it is a significant improvement."
The treatment involves injections with a synthetic antibody, called Campath, before the operation so that the body's immune defences - which cause rejection - are temporarily emasculated.
"If xenotransplants are going to be successful almost certainly an antibody with this kind of an effect would be a useful adjunct, but how useful we don't know. In xenotransplantation, rejection is more of a problem," Sir Roy said.
A clinical trial involving 30 kidney-transplant patients who were treated with Campath before surgery has shown that over two years they can survive on just just one anti-rejection drug, at half the normal dose.
Normally, transplant patients take at least three anti-rejection drugs at full dose,risking side-effects such as cancer and brittle-bone disease. The drugs usually include steroids - which stunt the growth of children and cause other long-term problems - cyclosporin, which can cause unwanted hair growth, and Imuran, an anti-cancer drug that can damage bone marrow. Campath is already used in other treatments without serious side-effects.
The research, previewed last night on BBC1's Nine O' Clock News, will be published in the Journal of Transplantation and describes how the antibody temporarily clears the immune system's lymphocyte cells from the bloodstream, allowing the organ transplant to go ahead without fear of immediate rejection. By the time the lymphocytes begin to return more than a month later they do not appear to be able to recognise the new organ as a "foreign body" that has to be attacked.
"What is new is the use of the antibody as a pre-emptive strike. If you use the analogy of war, this would be to take out the combative troops that are around at the time of the graft," Sir Roy said. "As the new reinforcements come along, they are brainwashed to be friendly towards the graft."
Liam Neeson's Downton dreams
Thriller is set in the secret world of British espionage
Bomber jacket worn by Mary Berry sells out within an hour
- 2 iOS 8 is full of shiny new features - but it's terrible news for app developers
- 3 Iranian blogger found guilty of insulting Prophet Mohammad on Facebook sentenced to death
- 4 A bottle of wine a day is not bad for you and abstaining is worse than drinking, scientist claims
- 5 Hitler’s former food taster reveals the horrors of the Wolf’s Lair
Scottish independence results live: Reunited kingdom - Scotland gives a clear 'No' in historic referendum
Iranian blogger found guilty of insulting Prophet Mohammad on Facebook sentenced to death
Scottish independence: YouGov final prediction puts No campaign 8 points ahead - but Yes team remains optimistic
Scottish independence: Tory revolt against 'devo max' grows as Rail Minister Claire Perry joins
Hitler’s former food taster reveals the horrors of the Wolf’s Lair
Daniele Watts: Django Unchained actress detained by Los Angeles police after being mistaken for a prostitute
Scottish independence referendum: A nation divided against itself
Scottish independence: David Cameron is becoming the 'George Bush of Britain'
Russia freezes Ukraine into submission: Kiev admits country doesn't have enough fuel for winter
Scottish independence: The Queen breaks silence on referendum debate – as think tank warns of £14bn black hole if Scotland votes Yes
Portuguese academic says British are 'filthy, violent and drunk'
£50 - £130 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: Are you an SEN Teacher or L...
£100 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: English & Media Teacher - ...
£90 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Leicester: Y1 Teacher required for a So...
Highly Competitive Package: Austen Lloyd: CITY - FINANCIAL SERVICES - Senior...