Results of three studies presented today at the International Congress of The Transplantation Society provide encouraging evidence that a patients immune system can be fooled into accepting a transplanted organ without the need for anti-rejection drugs.
According to one study conducted in India, patients are off the immunosuppressive drug cyclosporine three months after undergoing living donor kidney transplantation and an elaborate set of treatments that included a separate surgical procedure to infuse crushed donor kidney tissue into their thymus. In another study conducted at the University of Pittsburgh, a more simple strategy, but one just as bold, has some patients who received transplants of the small bowel, one of the must vulnerable organs to rejection, requiring just one anti-rejection pill once a week instead of the usual two or three pills two times a day. While in some patients the researchers had to back off when rejection occurred, they do plan to continue weaning the patients who so far are doing well, perhaps having them completely off the anti-rejection drug tacrolimus after one year.
The Pittsburgh teams encounters with rejection and the results of a third study from Stanford University are a reminder of the formidable challenge of achieving tolerance, defined as the permanent acceptance of the transplanted organ without immunosuppressive drugs. Two kidney transplant patients who were weaned off all drugs within a year of their transplants and who were drug-free for about five months have since experienced mild rejection necessitating their going back to low doses of drugs. But the rejection now treated, their doctors at Stanford are beginning to taper their drugs and are weaning a third patient in the study as well. At this point, the numbers are too small to draw conclusions about their results, they say.
Lisa Rossi | EurekALert!
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At the productronica trade fair in Munich this November, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT will be presenting Laser-Based Tape-Automated Bonding, LaserTAB for short. The experts from Aachen will be demonstrating how new battery cells and power electronics can be micro-welded more efficiently and precisely than ever before thanks to new optics and robot support.
Fraunhofer ILT from Aachen relies on a clever combination of robotics and a laser scanner with new optics as well as process monitoring, which it has developed...
Plants and algae use the enzyme Rubisco to fix carbon dioxide, removing it from the atmosphere and converting it into biomass. Algae have figured out a way to increase the efficiency of carbon fixation. They gather most of their Rubisco into a ball-shaped microcompartment called the pyrenoid, which they flood with a high local concentration of carbon dioxide. A team of scientists at Princeton University, the Carnegie Institution for Science, Stanford University and the Max Plank Institute of Biochemistry have unravelled the mysteries of how the pyrenoid is assembled. These insights can help to engineer crops that remove more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere while producing more food.
A warming planet
Our brains house extremely complex neuronal circuits, whose detailed structures are still largely unknown. This is especially true for the so-called cerebral cortex of mammals, where among other things vision, thoughts or spatial orientation are being computed. Here the rules by which nerve cells are connected to each other are only partly understood. A team of scientists around Moritz Helmstaedter at the Frankfiurt Max Planck Institute for Brain Research and Helene Schmidt (Humboldt University in Berlin) have now discovered a surprisingly precise nerve cell connectivity pattern in the part of the cerebral cortex that is responsible for orienting the individual animal or human in space.
The researchers report online in Nature (Schmidt et al., 2017. Axonal synapse sorting in medial entorhinal cortex, DOI: 10.1038/nature24005) that synapses in...
Whispering gallery mode (WGM) resonators are used to make tiny micro-lasers, sensors, switches, routers and other devices. These tiny structures rely on a...
Using ultrafast flashes of laser and x-ray radiation, scientists at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics (Garching, Germany) took snapshots of the briefest electron motion inside a solid material to date. The electron motion lasted only 750 billionths of the billionth of a second before it fainted, setting a new record of human capability to capture ultrafast processes inside solids!
When x-rays shine onto solid materials or large molecules, an electron is pushed away from its original place near the nucleus of the atom, leaving a hole...
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