Advancing cutting-edge treatment to improve kidney transplantation in children

Stanford physician-scientist Alice Bertaina, MD, PhD, associate professor of pediatrics has received about $18 million from the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM) for a clinical trial to allow kidney transplantation without the need for long-term immunosuppression.

Dr. Bertaina and her team at Stanford University were awarded $11,998,188 to test an approach that uses combined blood stem cell (HSC) and kidney transplantation with the goal to improve outcomes with kidney transplantation in children. This approach seeks to improve on the blood stem cell preparation through an immune-based purification process.

In this approach, the donor HSC are transplanted into the patient in order to prepare for the acceptance of the donor kidney once transplanted. Donor HSC give rise to cells and conditions that re-train the immune system to accept the kidney. This creates a “tolerance” to the transplanted kidney providing the opportunity to avoid long-term need for medications that suppress the immune system.

Pre-clinical data support the idea that this approach could enable the patient to stop taking any immunosuppression medications which have significant long-term risks.

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