The first successful, long-term kidney transplant was performed in 1954 by Joseph Murray. Over the years, the surgical techniques for organ transplantation have become so successful that organ recipients can expect to live a normal lifespan.
However, organ transplantation involves the process of introducing a foreign organ to a person’s body, and the body’s natural response is to attack the donated organ. As a result, all organ recipients require a lifelong regimen of powerful immunosuppressive drugs to keep the organ from rejecting (nmhealth.org).
Unfortunately, the anti-rejection drugs that are prescribed to perform a life-sustaining function also come with certain risks. The immunosuppressive drugs have side effects that range from arthritis to kidney damage. Over time, the immune system may still react against the organ.
Additionally, immunosuppressive therapy is expensive and may cost a patient anywhere from $10,000 to $14,000 per year. Furthermore, it is estimated that 50% of transplant recipients will eventually reject their organs within 10 to 12 years’ time resulting in the need for a second transplant.
One goal within the transplant community is to reduce or eliminate immunosuppressive drug therapy and promote transplantation tolerance by the use of alternative therapies.
TRACT Therapy Approach to Eliminating Rejection
Our innovative approach was developed from over 20 years of research focused on creating transplant tolerance. The therapy involves the isolation and expansion of a patient’s own naturally occurring T regulatory cells, known as Tregs, which have been shown to modulate immune responses and significantly contribute to immune system tolerance. A Phase 1 trial in kidney transplant has been completed and a Phase 2 safety and efficacy trial is planned.
After multiplying the patient’s immune cells in the laboratory, the expanded numbers of Tregs are infused back into the patient to regulate immune responses to the foreign organ. This breakthrough technology for self-regulation of the immune system has come to be recognized as an attractive way to promote tolerance and prevent rejection of transplanted organs.
We hope to demonstrate in future clinical studies, the reduction and eventual withdrawal of all immunosuppressive drug therapy.