In The News - Volume 1 - Issue 4 - March 18, 2015

Repair hope as scientists repair kidney damage
MELBOURNE scientists have used a new combination treatment to reverse kidney damage in what is a world first. A Monash University team reversed kidney scarring in mice by using a combination of stem cell therapy and a man-made version of a protein that is produced during pregnancy. Associate Professor Sharon Ricardo said the ageing population and an increase in type 2 diabetes had contributed to a surge in kidney disease. More

Researchers Identify Kidney Transplant Tolerance Mechanism
New York, NY (Scicasts) — Columbia University Medical Center (CUMC) researchers have pinpointed the immune system mechanism that allows a kidney transplant to be accepted without lifelong immunosuppressive drugs, a significant step toward reducing or eliminating the need for costly and potentially toxic immunosuppressant drugs and improving long-term transplant success. "This new technique provides a window into the fate of these T cells and has potential as an individualized biomarker for predicting and identifying rejection and tolerance in different types of transplant patients," said study leader Dr. Megan Sykes. More

After Failure in 2006, Scientists Score First Successful Penis Transplant
March 17 - South Africa - In a nine hour surgery last December, a team of doctors at Stellenbosch University (SU) and Tygerberg Hospital performed only the second attempt in history at a penis transplant after they attached without issue a donor organ to a young man whose penis was amputated three years ago when a botched circumcision during a traditional rite of passage led to a life-threatening infection. More

Rebooting cell programming can reverse liver failure
It might be possible to heal cirrhotic liver disease by rebooting the genes that control liver cell function, according to researchers at Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC and the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. If validated in human studies, the game-changing strategy, described today in the online version of the Journal of Clinical Investigation, could potentially treat patients who are too sick for liver transplantation and, in the future, reduce the need for transplants. The project grew out of the observation that not everyone who develops cirrhosis, or scarring of the liver, progresses to liver failure and its life threatening complications, explained Ira Fox, Professor of Surgery, Pitt School of Medicine [more]

University scientists pilot process to slow organ deterioration
March 16 - A team of University researchers is successfully keeping lungs alive outside the body — with the help of a new machine. In a clinical trial, the University is working to evaluate a recently developed machine — called the XVIVO Perfusion System — to keep donated organs viable for transplant while they’re outside of the body. The machine was first developed in Sweden in 2011. More

Can 'off the shelf' stem cell therapy treat heart failure patients? UB researcher aims to find out
March 16 - MedicalXpress - After a heart attack, cardiac stem cell therapy stimulates the growth of new heart cells, but exactly how that happens is unclear. The National Institutes of Health has awarded a $2 million grant to a researcher at the University at Buffalo School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences to do a preclinical study to find out. The answer will help determine which type of cardiac stem cell therapy will be most effective in treating patients with heart failure. More

In Memoriam - John Hopewell: Pioneering urologist who led the way in the treatment of kidney failure, both by dialysis and transplantation
John Hopewell was a pioneering urologist who led the way in Britain in the treatment of kidney failure, both by dialysis and transplantation. Until he became head of the renal unit at the Royal Free Hospital in London haemodialysis was confined to treating acute renal failure; Hopewell introduced the idea of treating chronic cases as well. More

Doctors worry how organ donations will be affected by Supreme Court ruling on assisted suicide
March 17 - National Post - As the nation awaits legalized doctor-assisted death, the transplant community is grappling with a potential new source of life-saving organs — offered by patients who have chosen to die. Some surgeons say every effort should be made to respect the dying wishes of people seeking assisted death, once the Supreme Court of Canada ruling comes into effect next year, including the desire to donate their organs. More

Epidemiology of Infections After Solid Organ and Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplantation
March 15 - Public Health -Raymund R. Razonable - Infections are common complications of transplantation. The risk for infection is determined by the epidemiologic exposures of the donor and the recipient, as well as the net state of immunosuppression. More

Unique procedure offered for patients with inoperable bile duct cancers
University of Cincinnati Cancer Institute transplant surgeons are offering a unique procedure to remove inoperable, cancerous tumors from the bile duct of the liver, known as cholangiocarcinoma, potentially improving survival rates for patients who may otherwise have few treatment options. More

The Most Dire Health Threat You Never Heard Of: 'NASH'
March 18 - - While the number of liver transplants performed in the United States is relatively stable, a disturbing trend is becoming apparent: A disease called nonalcoholic steatohepatitis, or NASH, which was almost unknown until only about two decades ago, has become the third most common reason for transplantation. More

Stemming the media hype on stem cell therapies
March 16 - Edmonton, AB - A new study by University of Alberta law researchers reveals sometimes overly optimistic news coverage of clinical translation of stem cell therapies—and as spokespeople, scientists need to be mindful of harnessing public expectations. More