Medical breakthrough to overcome organ rejection

October 22nd, 2008 - 4:35 pm ICT by IANS  

Sydney, Oct 22 (IANS) Scientists have developed a new tissue-typing technology that is faster, cheaper and more accurate than current methods to overcome rejection of transplanted organs.University of New South Wales (UNSW) commercialisation division, New South Innovations (NSI) has a provisional patent for the technology and is offering licensing opportunities to the industry.

If it becomes the new standard, it could save lives and reduce suffering for thousands of lives, according to UNSW scientist, Matthew Clemson, the technology’s co-inventor.

“Its speed, accuracy and cost advantages would bring more companies into the tissue-matching market and broaden the base of stem cell and organ donors who could be matched to potential recipients,” Clemson predicts.

Tissue typing is necessary to avoid immunological “rejection” of tissues or organs transferred from a donor to a recipient. Determining whether tissue is compatible involves tissue-typing tests to examine an individual’s Human Leukocyte Antigen (HLA) proteins.

These proteins are located on the surface of nearly every cell in the body. Significant differences in the structure of proteins between a donor and patient indicate whether the tissue will be rejected or not, according to a release of UNSW.

The existing method for tissue-typing sequences the DNA that encodes for the HLA protein. This blueprint is used to predict the protein structure. However, the process is complex, expensive and requires highly skilled staff to interpret the results.

The new technology could help save lives by broadening the base of available tissue and organ donors, and boosting the speed and accuracy of essential tissue-matching required, thereby avoiding the complications - and heartbreak - that come with organ rejection.

Wallace Bridge, co-inventor of the technology said “it would immediately benefit children who have life-threatening diseases, such as leukaemia and aplastic anaemia, who require stem cells from the bone marrow of living donors.”

Seventy percent of those needing a stem cell transplant can’t have one because a suitable donor cannot be found. The large international databases that would result from adopting UNSW’s technology would dramatically increase the chances of a successful donation, said Bridge.

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