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February 13, 2010

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Home » Metro » Health and Science

City trial boost for transplant patients

LOCAL experts are researching a new therapy that allows kidney transplant patients to cut the dose or even do without anti-rejection medication after surgery.

As part of a national project, experts from Zhongshan Hospital have begun clinical tests on the new method, called immune-tolerance therapy.

So far, all seven patients participating in the tests have taken lower doses of anti-rejection medicine than normal, hospital officials said.

Immune tolerance therapy suppresses the patient's immunity five to six days before surgery. Doctors then rebuild immunity by transplanting the donor's stem cells into the patient's body.

That allows the patient's body to recognize the donor cells and to teach the body to tolerate the new kidney and not mount a strong immune response after transplant.

"We kicked off clinical tests last April. The first patient is only taking anti-rejection medicine less than half of ordinary dosage and is expected to be off the medicine in a few months," said Dr Zhu Tongyu, the hospital's vice president and a urology expert.

"We are the first one in the nation to carry out such research and clinical tests.

"Though anti-rejection medicine can ensure the success of the transplant, the incidence of cancer among kidney recipients is 100 times that of ordinary people," Zhu said.

"Anti-rejection medicines suppress the person's immunity. Weaker immunity can create opportunities for infection and cancer."

The number of patients with kidney failure is growing, with 150,000 in China every year.


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