Cell injections could train the body to accept a transplanted organ

By Clare Wilson

People having organ transplants in future may no longer have to take anti-rejection medicines, thanks to a technique that could make their immune system see the donor’s tissue as their own.

The method involves giving the recipient an infusion of the donor’s cells a week before the operation, so it wouldn’t work for those getting an organ from someone who has died. However, it would be suitable for those with a living donor, such as in some kidney, liver and pancreas cell transplants.

When the technique was tested on five macaque monkeys, the transplanted pancreas cells stayed healthy without being rejected for up to two years. “It’s still very early days, but if it works it’s a complete game changer,” says Chris Callaghan at Guy’s and St Thomas’ Hospital in London, who wasn’t involved in the study.

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