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Research in the Department of Medicine both matches and supports the department's clinical efforts by focusing on interdisciplinary and translational work. Our independent laboratories are described below:
The Transplant Immunobiology Research Laboratory
The Transplant Immunobiology Laboratory (TIL) is the research arm of the Comprehensive Transplant Center at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, whose mission is to:
- Conduct innovative research in the field of transplant biology and immunology
- Provide transplant professionals with state-of-the-art research facilities, technologies and assistance
- Bring together scientists and clinicians to exchange information and insights to new directions in future transplant research
- Promote multidisciplinary collaborations in our research community
Current studies being conducted include increasing understanding of the pathogenesis of allograft fibrosis, examining the role of Kupffer Cells in the recruitment of extra hepatic progenitors of fibroblasts during the development of hepatic cirrhosis, and exploring cellular and molecular mechanisms governing B cell production of alloantibodies (which can affect acute humoral rejection).
Transplant Immunotherapy Program - HLA Lab
Of the tens of thousands of patients currently awaiting kidney transplants in the United States, one third are categorized as highly HLA-sensitized. Until recently, this population had to remain on dialysis for the remainder of their lives. Cedars-Sinai offers these patients hope for a kidney transplant through the Transplant Immunotherapy Program. This groundbreaking program includes immunotherapy treatment first adapted for use in transplantation by Cedars-Sinai researchers.
HLA stands for human leukocyte antigen, which consists of proteins that regulate the way the body recognizes foreign substances. In HLA-sensitized organ recipients, the patient has developed antibodies to the potential donor's HLA. If a transplant takes place, the recipient's immune system would attack the HLA-bearing cells in the donor organ, leading to the organ's failure.
Individuals become HLA-sensitized through pregnancy (women are exposed to foreign tissue from their fetuses), previous organ transplants or blood transfusions.
Transplant immunotherapy reduces HLA sensitivity by adding helpful antibodies to the patient's bloodstream. This lowers the level of HLA-sensitive antibodies and blocks their ability to attack a transplanted organ. Both pediatric and adult recipients of kidney transplants have been treated successfully.
Cedars-Sinai is also conducting clinical trials of transplant immunotherapy medications.
Breaking the Highly Sensitized Immune System Barrier
For one of every three kidney failure patients, a transplant is not possible even if a potential donor's tissue and blood types otherwise match perfectly. This is because they have a highly sensitized immune system that would attack the transplanted kidney or pancreas.
At the Cedars-Sinai Kidney and Pancreas Transplant Program, an innovative procedure -- intravenous immunoglobin (IVIG) therapy -- is being used to give new hope to kidney failure patients.
IVIG therapy was first adapted for use in transplantation by Cedars-Sinai researchers led by Stanley C. Jordan, MD. Cedars-Sinai holds the U.S. patent for this therapy.