NIAID Forms Clinical Consortium to Improve Success of Organ Transplants
The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID),
part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), today launched
a three-site consortium spanning Boston, Cleveland and Philadelphia
that will work to improve the outcomes of organ transplantation.
Although organ replacement prolongs survival for people suffering
from end-stage organ failure, it rarely restores normal life expectancy
and can sometimes lead to health problems associated with long-term
use of immunosuppressive drugs, which reduce the risk of transplant
rejection but also weaken the immune system against disease.
“The percentage of patients who live for a year after an organ
transplant has risen dramatically over the past 15 years, but there
has been only modest success in improving the odds of long-term
survival,” says Anthony S. Fauci, M.D., director of NIAID.
“This research consortium will move us closer to minimizing
the debilitating, and sometimes fatal, complications of organ transplantation.”
“This consortium is part of our increased commitment to clinical
research programs in immunology,” says Daniel Rotrosen, M.D.,
director of NIAID’s Division of Allergy, Immunology and Transplantation.
“The information generated by this group will not only help
us understand how the immune system recognizes and either accepts
or rejects transplanted organs, it will also enable us to develop
promising approaches to improving graft function and survival.”
The consortium will also receive support from two other NIH components,
the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases
and the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute. Funding for the
three five-year grants totals an estimated $43 million.
More than 25,000 organ transplants were performed in the United
States in 2003, according to the Organ Procurement and Transplantation
Network. As of August 2004, more than 86,000 people have their names
on waiting lists for organs such as hearts, lungs, kidneys and intestines.
Obstacles to successful organ replacement include genetic incompatibility
between donor and recipient and transplant rejection by the recipient’s
immune system. Also, patients who take immunosuppressive drugs for
a long period of time are more susceptible to conditions such as
diabetes, high blood pressure, and loss of kidney function.
The consortium will, among other activities, seek to identify genetic
factors in patients that could help doctors predict transplant outcomes
as well as responses to post-transplant therapy; develop diagnostic
tests that enable early detection and ongoing monitoring of immune-related
processes; and test the safety and effectiveness of new, less toxic
The three institutions in the consortium and the principal investigator
at each are
- Brigham and Women's Hospital, Boston, Mohamed H. Sayegh,
- Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine of Case Western
Reserve University, Peter Heeger, M.D.
- University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Abraham Shaked,
NIAID is a component of the National Institutes of Health, an agency
of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. NIAID supports
basic and applied research to prevent, diagnose and treat infectious
diseases such as HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted infections,
influenza, tuberculosis, malaria and illness from potential agents
of bioterrorism. NIAID also supports research on transplantation
and immune-related illnesses, including autoimmune disorders, asthma
and allergies. News releases, fact sheets and other NIAID-related
materials are available on the NIAID Web site at http://www.niaid.nih.gov.