A recent study conducted by Dr Nuria Lloberas from Barcelona’s Hospital Universitario de Bellvitge, with Astellas European Foundation Grant support, has identified potential therapeutic targets for transplantation treatment research.
The study examined whether changing specific proteins in the body leads to a reduction in immuno-inflammatory response, lowering organ rejection risks.
Lloberas received the Astellas European Foundation Transplantation Grant in 2007 to support her initialresearch.
The study was focused on ATP-binding cassette (ABC) transporters to see whether they are necessary in the development of maturing immune cells in an oxygen-deprived microenvironment.
Modulation of these maturing cells through ABC transporters could be a potential target in reducing immuno-inflammatory responses in organ transplantation.
Lloberas said as dendritic cells (DC) are the most potent antigen-presenting cells (APC) of the immune system, it is crucial to know the underlying mechanisms in their activation.
"Their ability to change their phenotype and function depending on their stage of maturation is an interesting target in immune system modulation towards tolerance in solid organs transplant," Lloberas said.
"The first goal of our work was to study the contribution of ABC molecules in DC maturation and, in a second step, we are studying whether ABC transporter proteins under different immuno-suppressive therapies are able to modify DC maturation states and potentially ABC pro-inflammatory substrates."
The study is expected to provide more information on DC migration and maturation requirements, considering that ABC molecules transporters have a potential target in DC-based immuno-suppressive therapies.
In Europe, more than 30,000 transplants are performed annually and the success in transplantation has occurred via innovations in surgical and patient care, as well as the development of immuno-suppressive therapies.
While there is a need to increase the specificity of immuno-suppression for improving efficacy and tolerability profiles, identifying new targets for the immune system is a major step in developing such specific immuno-therapies.
Astellas European Foundation trustee Ayad Abdulahad said the team was selected because its work was seen to have the potential to identify new routes that researchers can target.
"Dr Lloberas and the team’s work highlights ABC-transporters as potential targets in immuno-suppressive therapies," Abdulahad said.
Astellas European Foundation said that a grant of $150,000 will be awarded in September to the successful research unit or institution for extensive and meaningful research in the area of transplantation, as part of its Astellas European Foundation Transplantation Grant for 2014.