Although transplantation is by far the preferred treatment option for patients with end-stage renal disease (ESRD), those with high levels of "anti-donor" antibodies have had little hope of receiving a donated organ. Among the relatively few who have undergone transplantation, rejection rates have been very high.
Because the immune systems of "highly sensitized" individuals initiate a rejection response against the tissue of the majority of the population, these patients typically spend the rest of their lives undergoing kidney dialysis several times a week – a painful, costly process that extends life but usually results in a diminishing quality of life.
Now, a 12-center study, funded in part by the National Institutes of Health and reported in the December 2004 issue of the Journal of the American Society of Nephrology, found that an immune-modulating therapy pioneered for transplant patients at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center reduced high antibody levels and improved transplantation rates. The analysis was based on the experiences of 98 highly sensitized patients who were administered either the medication, called intravenous immunoglobulin (IVIG), or a placebo while awaiting transplantation.
Sandra Van | EurekAlert!
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