A new strategy to improve transplant survival in diabetic patients is presented online in Nature Medicine.
In some individuals, Type 1 diabetes can be treated by transplanting pancreatic islets, but long-term survival of the transplants has been difficult to achieve. Islet grafts are rejected by the immune system, and efforts to increase their survival are usually aimed at dampening immune T-cell function.
Because B cells -- another type of immune cell -- may also play a role in graft rejection, Ali Naji and colleagues tested the effect of depleting B cells in monkeys transplanted with islet allografts. The authors found that rituximab, a B-cell depleting antibody approved for the treatment of Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma and rheumatoid arthritis, in combination with T-cell depleting therapy could extend survival of the grafts in some animals.
Long-term graft survival also normalized blood sugar levels, suggesting that B-cell depletion should be studied further for its potential benefit to therapies aimed at improving survival of islet transplants used to treat Type 1 diabetes.
Ali Naji (University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, Philadelphia, PA, USA)
Abstract available online.
(C) Nature Medicine press release.
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