Research Group

  • Prof. Megan Sykes, Principal Investigator
  • Assoc. Prof. Leo Buhler, Co-Investigator
  • Dr Hu Zheng, Research Associate


  • Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, USA


  • Bone Marrow Transplantation with Regulatory Cells to Achieve Tolerance in Monkeys

Transplantation of organs and tissues is a successful method for curing numerous life-threatening diseases. The necessary life-long suppression of the host’s immune system unfortunately predisposes recipients to infection, cancer and cardiovascular disease. The induction of immune tolerance, i.e. the successful function of grafts without any long-term use of drugs suppressing the host’s immune system, is a major goal of clinical transplantation. This goal has been recently achieved in a limited number of patients receiving a combined transplantation of kidney and bone marrow. However, the need for a conditioning regimen starting six days prior to transplantation limits its application to living donors. Furthermore, the donor bone marrow has not survived long-term in the recipients and tolerance to organs other than kidneys has not been achieved so far. In this project, we aim to use gene therapy to induce host regulatory immune cells that have been shown in rodents to allow long-term survival of the donor bone marrow and subsequent robust and persistent tolerance to donor tissues. We will test this strategy for living and deceased donor transplantation of insulin-producing pancreatic cells and other organs.

We plan to perform these experiments in nonhuman primates, which is the closest model to humans. Results obtained will be highly relevant for human medicine and can be rapidly translated into clinical application.

Progress Report
Final Report