In the next decade, patients who have to go through a transplant their doctors will not have to inform them about the drugs (immunosuppressants) that today must take for life. Drugs that prevent your immune system from attacking the new organ and, therefore, reject it.
A team of researchers from the Carlos III Health Institute have identified a new therapy that prevents rejection and eliminates the need for medication for good. They have devised a nanotherapy directed to the innate immune system that "allows the indefinite acceptance of the transplanted organs".
The nanoparticles they have created "penetrate the bone marrow and inactivate the cells that generate this rejection by not recognizing the transplanted organ," explains Jordi Ochando, senior scientist at the National Center for Microbiology at the Carlos III Health Institute and principal author. of the study that has been published in «Immunity». For the generation of these nanoparticles "we have introduced inhibitors such as rapamycin, an immunosuppressant". It is the use of this widely used medication in clinical treatment that will favor the jump from animal study – it has been tested in mice transplanted from the heart – to humans. "We estimate that between three and five years we will carry out the first clinical trials in patients," predicts Ochando.
The average life of an organ, as Ochando indicates, is 10 years, "although liver transplantation has better survival. This nanoimmunotherapy would be suitable for all types of transplants, "he says. Moreover, "it could be applied in all diseases in which the immune system is hyperactivated, as in diabetes, arthritis or allergies."
This study has had the full support of the National Transplant Organization (ONT). "Today excellent results are achieved after transplantation with a very low rate of acute rejection but, for this, it is necessary to administer a combination of two or three immunosuppressive drugs to each patient for life, always to avoid continuously the rejection and deterioration of the transplanted organ ", explains Beatriz Domínguez-Gil, director of the ONT. "If this advance were transferred to the clinic, it could mean that transplants could be performed with the same or even better results and patients would not have to take this immunosuppressive therapy that has important side effects," he adds. They can produce high toxicity, risk of infection and cancer. Therefore, a person of 50 years can receive up to three transplants throughout his life.