The team has developed a special polymer to coat blood vessels on transplanted organs.
That coating has the potential to eliminate the need for anti-rejection drugs, which prevent the immune system from attacking the new organ but also have serious side effects.
“Blood vessels in our organs are protected with a coating of special types of sugars that suppress the immune system’s reaction, but in the process of procuring organs for transplantation, these sugars are damaged and no longer able to transmit their message.” Dr. Jayachandran Kizhakkedathu with UBC’s Centre for Blood Research said.
Kizhakkedathu and colleagues synthesized a polymer to mimic the sugars and developed a process to apply it to blood vessels.
So far, the coating has only been tested in mice. Clinical trials in humans are still several years away.
“We’re hopeful that this breakthrough will one day improve quality of life for transplant patients and improve the lifespan of transplanted organs,” Kizhakkedathu said.