Research Group

  • Dr Chen Tan, Principal Investigator
  • Dr Igor Koralnik, Co-Investigator
  • Dr Martha Pavlakis, Co-Investigator
  • Dr Anil Chandraker, Collaborator
  • Dr Isaac Stillman, Collaborator


  • Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Boston, USA


  • The Role of the Cellular Immune Response against BK Virus in Kidney Transplant Recipients

BK virus is a human polyomavirus which infects up to 80% of the general population. BK virus resides in the kidney of healthy individuals and does not cause any disease unless reactivated. In kidney transplant recipients, BK virus is particular problematic because it causes polyomavirus associated nephropathy (PVAN), which can lead to the failure of transplanted kidneys. Currently, there is no treatment for PVAN. Up to 10% of kidney transplant recipients are at risk for developing PVAN and the consequent transplanted organ failures, requiring retransplantation.

Cellular immune response prevents BK virus reactivation in healthy individuals. This component of immune response is specific to each person’s unique Human Leukocyte Antigen (HLA) expressed and to BK virus. It is unclear then, how the cellular immune response can target HLA mismatched kidney graft with BK virus reactivation. We have detected such graft HLA specific immune response in kidney transplant patients with PVAN. Therefore, we hypothesize that the presence of such immune response is protective of the graft and is an indication of good prognosis.

Using new reagents developed in our lab, we will study HLA mismatched cellular immune response in a cohort of kidney transplant recipients. These studies will provide novel and important insights as to how the immune system fights against BK virus in kidney transplant recipients. Knowledge gained will arm physicians with tools to better assess patients at risk for PVAN and aid in providing prognosis of the disease. Finally, these studies will identify therapeutic targets for development of immunotherapy for PVAN.

Progress Report
Final Report