In Primate Study, Antibody Treatment Prevents Organ Rejection After Transplant

THURSDAY, Aug. 31, 2023 (HealthDay News) -- A new study in non-human primates shows potential for using a manmade monoclonal antibody to help prevent organ rejection after a transplant.

The antibody was successful in promoting graft survival after kidney and pancreatic islet cell transplantations, according to the research.

This clears a path for this new monoclonal antibody to move forward in human clinical trials, the researchers said.

“Current medications to prevent organ rejection are good overall, but they have a lot of side effects,” said lead author Dr. Imran Anwar, a surgical research fellow at Duke University School of Medicine in Durham, N.C.

“These therapies suppress the immune system, putting patients at risk of infections and organ damage, and many cause non-immune complications such as diabetes and high blood pressure," Anwar explained in a Duke news release.

"The push over the last decades has been to develop new, less toxic drugs," Anwar said. “We are hopeful this antibody moves us closer to that goal.”

The monoclonal antibody is known as AT-1501. It was engineered to minimize the risk of blood clots, a problem in an earlier version.

In the primates who had kidney transplants, AT-1501 prevented rejection without the need for additional immunosuppressive drugs. Importantly, it did not promote blood clots, the researchers said.

In animals that had islet transplantation, AT-1501 was effective when combined with existing immunosuppressive agents, but not alone. Islets are cells found in clusters throughout the pancreas, and transplants can help people with diabetes produce healthy levels of insulin.

The combination therapies that doctors used in this study for islet transplantation led to uniform islet graft survival without weight loss or infections that can typically arise, the study authors noted.

“These data support AT-1501 as a safe and effective agent to promote both islet and kidney transplant survival and function, and allow us to advance into clinical trials right away,” said co-author Dr. Allan Kirk, chair of Duke's surgery department. “This less toxic approach has been pursued for over 20 years, and I think we are finally at a turning point. This could be a great advance for people in need of organ transplants.”

Eledon Pharmaceuticals, formerly called Anelixis Therapeutics, is developing AT-1501 for kidney and islet cell transplant.

The study findings were published online Aug. 30 in the journal Science Translational Medicine.

Funding sources included the U.S. National Institutes of Health and the Diabetes Research Institute Foundation.

More information

The National Kidney Foundation has more on kidney transplant.

SOURCE: Duke University, news release, Aug. 30, 2023

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