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Immunosuppressant-Free Retinal Stem Cell Transplant Feasible

Reprogrammed monkey stem cells successfully transplanted into the eyes of other monkeys


THURSDAY, Sept. 15, 2016 (HealthDay News) -- Scientists report they have successfully transplanted reprogrammed monkey stem cells into the eyes of other monkeys without the need for immunosuppressants. These results were published online Sept. 15 in Stem Cell Reports.

To assess the effectiveness of major histocompatibility complex (MHC) matching, the researchers behind the new study took retinal pigment cells from a stem cell bank that were grown from monkey induced pluripotent stem cells and transplanted them into the eyes of other monkeys. Some monkeys were given genetically matched MHCs, while others received mismatched MHCs.

Rejection occurred fairly quickly among the MHC-mismatched monkeys, the researchers found. But the transplanted cells in the MHC-matched monkeys survived without rejection for at least six months with no use of drugs to weaken the immune system. T cells did not respond to the transplanted retinal pigment cells if they were from an MHC-matched monkey.

In a second study in the same issue of the journal, the researchers repeated these experiments using human cells in the lab. The results were similar to those observed in the monkey trial.

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