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[IP] Transplant organs without rejection

     Transplant organs without rejection 
     Human trials expected in months 
     By Robert Bazell
     NEW YORK, June 1 - There's been a breakthrough in organ 
     transplantation that could have astounding implications for all sorts 
     of diseases - even a potential cure for diabetes. "This type of 
     approach," said Dr. Allan Kirk of the Naval Medical Research Center in 
     Bethesda, Md., "could revolutionize transplant medicine." 
             SO FAR, the research has been done in monkeys only - but it 
     has been so successful that human trials will start within months.
            Until now the problem with transplantation has been that the 
     body's immune system tries to reject transplanted tissue so vigorously 
     that some transplants are not possible - and others require a lifetime 
     of harsh anti-rejection drugs
            In the new research, scientists were able to use a genetically 
     engineered drug to retrain the immune system, altering white blood 
     cells so that the body accepts the transplanted tissue without 
     anti-rejection drugs.
            At the University of Miami, Dr. Norma Kenyon and Dr. Camillio 
     Ricordi, for the first time, successfully transplanted cells called 
     islets that manufacture insulin. Monkeys with a condition like 
     diabetes now can survive and stay healthy without insulin shots.   
      Dr. Norma Kenyon
               "This appears to be a significant advance," said Kenyon, 
     "one step closer to what may eventually lead to a cure for type-1 
            That's amazing news for the almost one million Americans like 
     Jane Adams, of Washington, DC, who suffer form the most serious form 
     of diabetes, type-1. To keep their blood sugar at normal levels most 
     diabetics must constantly monitor their blood and inject insulin 
     several times a day. But even with insulin, diabetes can get out of 
     control bringing loss of eyesight and limbs, heart attacks and death.
            "Theres an everyday burden of dealing with your diabetes," said 
     Adams. "But there's also an emotional and kind of frightening burden 
     about what lies ahead in the future."
            Using the new transplantation technology, other scientists have 
     transplanted kidneys in monkeys - without using anti-rejection drugs. 
     If it works in humans, transplants will become much simpler.
            "People could have their organ failure cured," said Kirk, "and 
     go about their normal daily life without being tethered by the side 
     effects of immunosuppressive medication."
            That dream could become a reality as early as this summer, when 
     human trials begin of the new kidney transplant technique and the new 
     attempt at curing diabetes.
            Robert Bazell is a science correspondent for NBC News.

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