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Ahmedabad-based institutes get patent to use stem cells in kidney transplant

According to an article, an international
patent has been issued to the G R Doshi K M Mehta Institute of Kidney Diseases
and Research Centre (IKDRC) and Dr HL Trivedi Institute of Transplantation
Sciences (ITS) from Ahmedabad, Indian for utilization of stem cells in treatment
of patients having undergone kidney transplantation.  Given that we could not
find a patent number written in the article, as well as the fact that
"International Patents" do not exist, we presume the authors meant a provisional
patent having international priority under Paris Convention, or a Patent
Cooperation Treaty (PCT) application. 

The subject matter discussed is the use of stem cells to
circumvent the need for immune suppression during transplantation.  While immune
suppressants such as cyclosporine, rapamycin, and FK-506 have saved many lives
by making transplantation possible, they have numerous side effects associated
with their long-term use.  These include increased risk of cancer, higher number
of bacterial/viral infections, and possibility of kidney failure.  The work
discussed in the article uses the ability of stem cells to "immune modulate" and
therefore inhibit rejection.  A video describing stem cell mediated immune
modulation may be seen at this link

Dr Aruna Vanikar, Head of Pathology, Lab Medicine,
Transfusion Services and Immuno hematology department, IKDRC-ITS, who according
to the article recently received the patent, stated, "We have been working on
the use of stem cells since 1998. The study involved several phases. When a
patient undergoes kidney transplant, he/she might face difficulties, including
complete rejection. To suppress that, several drugs are used…Sometimes, the body
also reacts to high dosage of drugs. With this patent, patients will not have
any such complications. The stem cells would comprise mesenchymal cells
generated from the donors’ fat, and haematopoetic stem cells taken from donors’
bone marrow and blood. These cells are infused in the recipients’ liver, as it
is considered the most tolerogenic organ of the body

While the article did not provide technical details, we
found on
some of Dr. Vanikar’s work.  A recent publication: Effect of
co-transplantation of mesenchymal stem cells and hematopoietic stem cells as
compared to hematopoietic stem cell transplantation alone in renal
transplantation to achieve donor hypo-responsiveness. In the journal Jan 19th
edition of the International Urology and Nephrology Journal described the
reduction of immune suppressant dosage by administration of bone marrow and fat
derived stem cells.  Another paper from the same group described the reduction
of immune suppressant dose by a similar stem cell protocol, termed the
"Ahmedabad tolerance induction protocol".  It will be interesting to see if
these early clinical results can be translated into Phase III placebo controlled
trials.  Commenting on the "tolerance induction protocol" Dr Aruna Vanikar said:
"With modification in Ahmedabad tolerance induction protocols for
transplantation without conventional immunosuppression, the results are
rewarding. Secondly, the incidences of acute and chronic rejection and
recurrence of basic disease have decreased."

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