A better future for transplant patients
Each year, The Children’s Hospital at Westmead performs a third to half of all paediatric kidney transplants in Australia. A major focus of the Kids Research Institute is to find ways to make transplantation better.
A kidney transplant saved six year old Bailey Haber’s life – but, like any transplant patient, he has to take medication every day to stop his body rejecting the new kidney. These immunosuppressive drugs mean he’s vulnerable to infection.
The team at the Centre for Kidney Research is working on ways to prolong the life of transplanted organs and to prevent rejection in transplant recipients like Bailey.
“Our strategies either enhance the body’s own way of protecting against injury, or remove parts of the immune system which cause rejection and damage,” says the Centre’s Head of Laboratory Research, Professor Stephen Alexander.
One trial has looked at the possibility of transplanting some of the donor’s own immune system along with the new organ, which could one day give patients a natural tolerance without the need for immunosuppressive drugs. Another area of research involves giving the patient a DNA injection that prevents the original kidney damage.
The Centre for Kidney Research is also involved in the large international GoCAR study looking at the genetic profile and immune response of people who have had kidney transplants to try to understand why rejection sometimes occurs.