Getting the right match is very important when it comes to allogeneic cell transplants. Most people are familiar with how blood needs to be correctly matched with the right blood type in order to ensure that the new host body accepts the transfusion.
The same goes for individuals who are accepting an organ transplant. Scientists are now discovering that the same goes for those who are accepting cell transplants.
Autologous vs Allogeneic Transplants
Autologous transplants are generally considered the safest. These transplants take something from the patient’s own body to use in another area. The patient’s body will naturally accept the tissue because it didn’t come from an outside source.
Allogeneic transplants are those in which tissue from someone is implanted into another body. These are the type of transplant that most people mean when they refer to as an organic transplant. Surgeons have to take extra care when giving patients blood or tissue from an outside source to make sure that their bodies can accept it.
What it means for Cellular Transplants
Scientists have found that the same concept is true for patients who are undergoing a transplant on the cellular level. Autogeneic transplants consist of cells that come from an individual’s own bone marrow or peripheral blood supply. These cells are readily taken accepted by the patient’s body.
It was once thought that most cells would be accepted even if they were from an outside source, but that is now known not to be the case. Typing systems are going to have to be put in place in order to ensure that patients can accept cells that come from some outside source.
New Research in the Field
This concept has become something of a hot topic among biologists who work in classroom environments. Researchers at the Stephen A. Wynn Institute for Vision Research have recently published the results of a study they feel might hold some answers about how the human body can distinguish between native and foreign cells.
They extracted retinal pigment epithelial cells taken from one strain of pigs and implanted them into unrelated pigs. Cells that were successfully transplanted into the retinal tissue of these unrelated pigs ultimately generated an immune response.
The research was funded by a generous grant from Steve Wynn, and it might make it possible for physicians to gain a better understanding of what triggers an immune response in human patients. This information will be necessary if this kind of therapy is used to regrow human retinas. Currently the therapy is mostly used to treat certain forms of cancers.
Where Surgeons can Go From Here
There are two possible ways that surgeons can ensure that the bodies of patients can accept foreign tissue. If different type signatures can be established for different varieties of cell, then it might be possible to match up donors and patients. This would be very similar to the process used to ensure that blood transfusions aren’t rejected.
If this can’t be completely established, then it might still be possible to develop new pharmaceutical treatments that could trick the human body into accepting foreign cells.
Regardless of what method is ultimately used, these therapies look extremely promising and they should be more available to patients in the near future.