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Professor Siemionow: Chimeric cells can help in transplantology

Prof. Maria Siemionow. Photo: PAP/Jakub Kaczmarczyk 04.09.2015 Prof. Maria Siemionow. Photo: PAP/Jakub Kaczmarczyk 04.09.2015

The biggest barrier in transplantology is the necessity of giving the recipient very toxic immunosuppressive drugs. We are creating chimeric cells that can solve this problem, Prof. Maria Siemionow told PAP.

The world-renowned transplantologist Prof. Siemionow from the University of Illinois in Chicago performed the first face transplant in the US in 2008.

According to Prof. Siemionow, although technically transplantologists perform transplantations of many organs - including (those within - PAP) facial skeleton, the biggest challenge remains the organism`s acceptance of the transplant.

"There are currently 39 patients after face transplantation in the world, but the greatest barrier is still the need to take drugs against transplant rejection, immunosuppressive drugs, which are very toxic, often cause infections and make the patients` immune system very suppressed (their immune response is suppressed - PAP), leading to many complications" - she explained.

Professor Siemionow is working on chimeric cells that will help the body accept transplants. The method is based on taking bone marrow from the donor and recipient and mixing them in equal proportions.

"When such marrow, mixed in a half-and-a-half ratio, is given to the transplant recipient, we trick the immune system. For example, the recipient gets a new heart and some cells that start functioning in his body. The body treats these chimeric cells as its own, because at least half of them represent the recipient. Thus, chimeric cells support transplantation - for example, of the face, kidneys or liver - and prevent immediate rejection of these organs. This is very important, because we do not need to use drastic doses of immunosuppressive drugs. The patient`s chance of accepting a transplant is much greater" - said Prof. Siemionow.

"This is tricking the body" - emphasized Prof. Siemionow. She compares chimeric cells to the Trojan horse, which "enters and seems very friendly", but inside it carries something that may seem threatening to the local community. "In this case, the idea is to introduce chimeric cells that give the impression of the body`s own cells. When they are accepted and begin to propagate - then there is a chance to increase their count, and later - to support the transplant and regenerate the organ that has been transplanted".

In the case of chimeric cells, it is possible to match unrelated donors and recipients.

"As a curious fact, let me add that we have already created a trimeric cell - we have combined three different cells from three different donors, and they will also be used in the near future. We even already have an open patent for this in the treatment of sickle cell anaemia" - added Prof. Siemionow.

The transplantologist explained that trimeric cells could be used, for example, during a war.

"Our goal is to build a universal marrow that can be used as a bridge therapy during hospital transport (of patients - PAP) from one difficult place to another, for example from Afghanistan to Poland. Cells alone are easy to transport, and then we can start treating the patient" - explained Prof. Siemionow.

The famous transplantologist participates in the 2nd Wound Treatment Forum in Zakopane. The conference participants include nearly 700 doctors, nurses, microbiologists and pharmacists. (PAP)

author: Szymon Bafia

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