Immunological successes drive transplants forward

[Press invitation, Sweden, 6 March 2015] Recent years have seen many breakthroughs within immunology and the effects of these are now being seen in clinics. At a conference at the Swedish medical university Karolinska Institutet we will hear about how this new knowledge is being used to understand diabetes and treat cancer. New possibilities are also opening up for  sorts of transplants – not just of internal organs but also of arms.

Journalists are welcome to attend the conference and interview the researchers.
Conference: Symposium on Breakthroughs in Clinical and Translational Immunology
Time: Thursday 12 March 2015
Location: Karolinska Institutet Campus Solna, Berzelius väg 3, Gustaf Retzius lecture hall

A few years ago it became possible to transplant an arm from a deceased person onto someone who traumatically had lost a limb. Stefan Schneeberger of Innsbruck Medical University, Austria, is behind five arm transplants – each with very good results. Patients have regained both sensation and motor function in the transplanted arm. He will be present at the conference at Karolinska Institutet and will talk about his experiences surgically and immunologically as well as ethically.

Steven A. Rosenberg of the National Institutes of Health, USA, is currently one of the most experienced people in the world when it comes to treating cancer using white blood cells. This method extracts the blood cells from the patient's body and cultivates them to increase their tumour recognition function. They are then re-injected into the body. One type of cancer treated this way is malignant melanoma, which Rosenberg will be speaking about during the symposium.

Rejection reactions represent a well-known problem during transplants. One way to increase the body's tolerance of a new organ is to simultaneously transplant hematopoietic cells (i.e. bone marrow-derived cells). Hematopoietic cells are harvested from the donor’s peripheral blood and selected with respect to certain cellular characteristics. They are then introduced into the recipient's body shortly after an organ transplant. One of the leading researchers developing this method is John Scandling at Stanford University, USA, and he will talk more about how this can be used during kidney transplants.

Last year, Alex Karlsson-Parra at Uppsala University Hospital was awarded the Athena Prize in Clinical Research for a highly innovative method to treat cancer in, for example, the liver or kidneys. He speaks of how the dendritic immune cells from healthy blood donors can be used and injected directly into tumours, as a form of therapeutic cancer vaccine, with astonishing results.

Many other elements of world-leading Swedish research will be presented during the day, for example, research on beta cell transplants for diabetes and liver cell transplants for congenital and acquired liver diseases.


If you have any questions, please contact:
Erik Berglund, researcher and registrar in transplantation surgery
Department of Clinical Science, Intervention and Technology
+46 (0)73-918 12 33 

Sabina Bossi, Press Officer
+46 (0)8-524 860 66 or +46 (0)70-614 60 66

Karolinska Institutet is one of the world's leading medical universities. Its vision is to significantly contribute to the improvement of human health. Karolinska Institutet accounts for over 40 per cent of the medical academic research conducted in Sweden and offers the country´s broadest range of education in medicine and health sciences. The Nobel Assembly at Karolinska Institutet selects the Nobel laureates in Physiology or Medicine.


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