We break new ground in transplantation medicine: we modify the donor organ and not the recipient.
Funded by the European Union and the state of Lower Saxony
Organ rejection, immunosuppression and organ shortage are the major problems in transplantation medicine. Organ transplantation without rejection and immunosuppression must therefore be the aim. To achieve this, we are working on a completely new approach: Cloaking organs. Instead of inducing immunological blindness in the organ recipient through immunosuppression, an immunological invisibility of the donor organ is created.
"Transplantation needs to be re-thought in order to break new ground. Invisible organs offer the prospect of a life without rejection and immunosuppression, better graft survival, better quality of life and more available organs.”
The problem of rejection has been unresolved for decades. It is thus all the more important to look for alternatives and to use new research approaches to achieve the longest possible survival of the donor organs. This is what our innovation network is working on: invisible organs instead of lifelong immunosuppression.
Rejection and organ shortage are the major hurdles in transplantation medicine. Therefore, the wishful thinking is still the creation of tolerance towards indefinitely available organs. At least when it comes to avoiding rejection, the progress is obvious. The basic idea, however, is almost always to modify the recipient's immune system to achieve immunological blindness to the transplanted organ. But even today the induction of a transplant-specific tolerance remains an unfulfilled dream. Instead, immunological blindness has to be purchased by a general, usually lifelong, immunosuppression, which, despite all the progress made in biomarkers, immunosuppressive drugs and monitoring, still places a high burden on the patient. We are taking a completely new approach to solving the problem of organ rejection: instead of inducing immunological blindness in the organ recipient, an immunological invisibility of the donor organ is created. To this end, during the ex vivo phase of the transplant, the tissue markers causing rejection are permanently switched off. This creates a camouflage that protects the organ from rejection. This new technology offers the prospect of a life without rejection and immunosuppression, better graft survival, better quality of life and more available organs.