A delivery system that releases a small dose of an immunosuppressive drug at the site of organ transplant has been developed by an international team of researchers, including those from the Institute for Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine (inStem), Bangalore.
The phase following a limb or solid organ transplant is crucial for patients as chances of its rejection are very high. Regular, heavy doses of immunosuppressive drugs are administered to receivers of a transplant to stop their immune system from reacting towards the foreign organ and rejecting it altogether. But these precautionary drugs, given regardless of the severity of immune reaction, come with their side-effects. Moreover, they suppress the entire body’s immune system leaving the patient vulnerable to infections, instead of suppressing the immune response at the site of transplant.
To overcome the high toxicity and vulnerability to infections associated with regular intake of drugs post-surgery, Dr. Praveen Kumar Vemula, principal investigator at the laboratory of self-assembled biomaterials at inStem, and co-workers packaged a commonly used immunosuppressive drug called tacrolimus in a gel. The gel – that needs to be injected only once under the skin of a transplant – releases the drug in small doses, enough to suppress the local immune response.