- Dr Megan K. Levings, Principal Investigator
- Dr C. Bruce Verchere, Co-Investigator
- University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada
- Using Cells to Prevent the Rejection of Transplanted Organs
Patients undergoing solid organ or tissue transplantation are at risk due to the use of immunosuppressive drugs that non-specifically suppress the immune system. As a consequence, patients face an increased frequency of malignancies and infections, and potential drug-related kidney failure, hypertension, diabetes and seizures. A novel type of white blood cells, known as T regulatory cells (Treg), represents an ideal candidate for an innovative therapy that could prevent rejection of foreign tissues, without affecting other aspects of the normal immune system. This proposal aims to address questions about the molecular and cellular biology of Treg. A protein, known as Foxp3, is thought to regulate the development and function of Treg. We aim to demonstrate the potential to use Foxp3 as a "molecular switch" to generate Treg that could be used therapeutically to specifically prevent immune responses to foreign tissues and organs. In addition we will explore the mechanisms that regulate the function of Foxp3 to better define how Treg function, and how they are different from other T cells that cause graft rejection. Ultimately, the work will contribute to the application of Treg as a "cellular therapy" to control the undesired immune responses to transplanted cells and organs.