Special blood vessel coating prevents organ rejection

August 11, 2021
Special blood vessel coating prevents organ rejection

A special polymer used to coat the blood vessels of transplanted organs could one day do away with anti-rejection drugs – patients requiring an organ transplant also need to take certain drugs to prevent their immune system from rejecting the new organ, however the drugs may sometimes cause serious side effects. The protective polymer coating developed by Dr. Jayachandran Kizhakkedathu and colleagues at the University of British Columbia (UBC), Canada, “substantially diminished” rejection of transplants in mice when tested at Vancouver’s Simon Fraser University and at Illinois’ Northwestern University.

“We’re hopeful that this breakthrough will one day improve quality of life for transplant patients and improve the lifespan of transplanted organs,” said Dr. Kizhakkedathu.

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The professor in UBC’s department of pathology and laboratory medicine had explained that blood vessels in organs are protected with a coating of special types of sugars that suppress the body’s immune response. These sugars are easily damaged and become ineffective in the process of procuring organs for transplantation.

Using this understanding, Dr. Kizhakkedathu’s team synthesised a biocompatible polymer that mimics the function of the special sugars, and further developed a chemical process for applying it to the blood vessels of harvested organs.

The polymer coating eventually dissolves once the crucial introduction period of the organ has passed. In lab tests, it was confirmed that a mouse artery, coated in this way and then transplanted, would “exhibit strong, long-term resistance to inflammation and rejection.”

The team is optimistic that this technology would work equally well on lungs, hearts, and other human organs.

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Category: Education, Medical breakthrough

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