After receiving a kidney, the patient's immune system rejects the foreign organ and damages it progressively, so to avoid as much as possible the deterioration of the renal graft, and to achieve to extend its survival to the maximum, it is necessary to administer to the recipient a immunosuppressive therapy, which acts by blocking the functioning of the immune system. The drugs that are commonly used are cyclosporine and tacrolimus, but they have side effects and, over time, they are toxic and lead to kidney failure.

To try to solve the serious problem of chronic rejection in the kidney transplant, a group of scientists from the University of Xiamen (China) has conducted research to see if it is possible to improve the survival and function of the transplanted organ by modifying traditional therapy, and have used it mesenchymal cells -Which are a type of stem cells-, obtained from the bone marrow of the graft recipient. The researchers administered the patient these cells twice, ten minutes before the transplant, and two weeks after the transplant.

Patients who received mesenchymal cells recovered renal function more quickly and had a lower risk of opportunistic infections

To carry out the study, whose data is collected by the journal Journal of American Medical Association, the researchers divided into three groups patients who were going to receive a kidney from one of their relatives. The first group - composed of 53 patients - extracted stem cells from their own bone marrow and supplied them together with the classic medication (cyclosporine or tacrolimus). The second group of 52 patients received a similar therapy, with the difference that the dose of drugs was 20% lower than usual. And in the case of the third group -51 patients- they were treated only with the usual immunosuppressive therapy, and without stem cells.

Patients who received the mesenchymal cells recovered their kidney function more quickly and had a lower risk of suffering infections opportunists. In addition, the frequency of acute rejection decreased. Although it is necessary to verify its long-term safety, the new therapy increases the possibilities of treatment to renal graft recipients, reducing the adverse effects that inevitably causes immunosuppressive medication.

Stanford Kidney Transplant - No Anti Rejection Drugs on CBS 5 (November 2019).