DECEMBER 4, 2014, SILVER SPRING, Md. (NNS) – A team of Navy researchers and collaborators working at the Naval Medical Research Center may have found a way to stop skin tissue rejection and published their results in the latest issue of STEM CELL Translational Medicine.
The research team developed and tested a laboratory skin transplantation treatment strategy model that supports the indefinite survival of donor transplanted skin grafts without use of long-term immunosuppression drug therapy.
This novel approach entails the intravenous injection of a small number of donor bone marrow cells and human stem cells.
“We demonstrated in the laboratory that a single infusion of adipose-derived stromal cells (ASC), stem cells taken from human body fat in a minimally invasive procedure, from an unmatched donor combined with an extremely low dose of bone marrow cells resulted in stable long-term tolerance of the skin graft without rejection for 200 days after the initial graft,” said Thomas Davis, Ph.D., lead author on the paper and a contractor from the Henry M. Jackson Foundation. Davis is working at the Naval Medical Research Center’s Regenerative Medicine Department.
Researchers still have a lot of work to do. From these preliminary studies, the next step is to test this strategy in preclinical studies to determine safety and efficacy. With promising results, this research will provide important knowledge about new ways to prevent rejection of transplanted organs.
“As we move forward, we are cautiously optimistic, appreciating that the transition from a laboratory model to proof-of-principle preclinical studies is challenging and not straightforward. If successful, this technology has diverse therapeutic applications in clinical transplantation in both military and civilian settings,” Davis said.
Capt. Eric A. Elster, professor and chairman at Norman M. Rich Department of Surgery, Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, helped lead the study.
“ASC constitutively produced high levels of anti-inflammatory immunoregulatory factors,” Elster said. “While further work is needed to validate this approach in other laboratory models before clinical trials can begin, the ability to use ASC, which are non-donor specific and clinically feasible, to induce tolerance opens a new horizon in transplantation.”
Traumatically injured warfighters often undergo complex tissue and limb reconstruction that includes procedures involving skin, muscle, bone, joint, cartilage and nerve. Preservation and reconstruction is critical to long-term rehabilitation related to daily activities such as walking, eating, bathing and dressing. Doctors are using reconstructive surgery to treat devastating combat wounds and burns and that includes tissue transplantation combined with long-term immune-suppression medications. Rejection of transplanted tissue from an unmatched donor can lead to critical complications.