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

Shubhlakshmi Shukla, IndianExpress.com, Feb 28, 2010

According to an article IndianExpress.com, 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 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ECi2uBSSQg8.  

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 www.pubmed.com 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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