An article published Online First and in The Lancet reports that a unique new law comes into effect in Israel in January 2010. It states that people who are prepared to sign donor cards themselves receive priority when they are in need of an organ transplant. In addition, increased priority is given to first degree relatives of those who have signed donor cards, to first degree relatives of those who have died and given organs, and to live donors of a kidney, liver lobe or lung lobe who have donated for as yet undesignated recipients. The article is the work of Professor Jacob Lavee, Director of the Heart Transplantation Unit, Sheba Medical Centre, Ramat Gan, and the Israel Transplant Centre, and colleagues.
Face and Hand Transplants - Ready to Become Mainstream Medicine? Though once inconceivable, face and hand transplants are quickly making themselves more present, both in the operating room and in the media. The world's first hand transplant was performed more than a decade ago, and the first partial-face transplant performed in the United States (and most extensive procedure to date) was completed this year. However, the advances in composite tissue allotransplantation also presents a number of multi-faceted issues including donor availability, patient selection, social perception, ethics, and complications. Consider this: the first-ever hand transplant was amputated after the patient failed to follow his life-long immunosuppressive regimen.
UT Southwestern Medical Center patient Michael LeBlanc, 40, is the first in North Texas to receive the newest generation of a mechanical device designed to improve heart function. It will be his lifeline while he awaits a heart transplant. Called a left-ventricular assist device (LVAD), its purpose is to help a patient's weakened heart pump blood throughout the body. For Mr. LeBlanc, it will help his ailing heart continue to pump until the Irving resident receives a new heart. UT Southwestern is the only medical facility in North Texas implanting the HeartWare Ventricular Assist System as part of a national clinical trial testing the effectiveness of the device.
For the first time, scientists in the McEwen Centre for Regenerative Medicine, University Health Network have successfully used gene therapy to repair injured human donor lungs, making them potentially suitable for transplantation into patients. This technique could significantly expand the number of donor lungs by using organs that are currently discarded, and improve outcomes after transplantation. In their pioneering work, a team of researchers led by Dr. Shaf Keshavjee, Senior Scientist at the McEwen Centre for Regenerative Medicine, University Health Network and Director of the Lung Transplant Program, University Health Network developed a technique of ex vivo gene delivery to donor lungs, before they are implanted into a recipient's body.
The Salk Institute has been awarded a $10.8 million grant by the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM) for translational research focusing on developing a novel stem-cell based therapy for Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) - or Lou Gehrig's Disease. Sam Pfaff, Ph.D., a professor in the Salk's Gene Expression Laboratory and an investigator for the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, will lead the group of researchers who will work on the four-year project announced as part of the $250 million CIRM Disease Team Award. It marks the first CIRM funding explicitly expected to result in FDA approval for clinical trials. The grants were given to multidisciplinary teams of basic scientists, clinicians and industry in collaboration with two international partners, the Medical Research Council, UK, and the Cancer Stem Cell Consortium, Canada.
A Swiss research team has found that using an animal's own brain cells (autologous transplant) to replace degenerated neurons in select brain areas of donor primates with simulated but asymptomatic Parkinson's disease and previously in a motor cortex lesion model, provides a degree of brain protection and may be useful in repairing brain lesions and restoring function. "We aimed at determining whether autografted cells derived from cortical gray matter, cultured for one month and re-implanted in the caudate nucleus of dopamine depleted primates, effectively survived and migrated, " said Dr. Jean-Francoise Brunet who, along with colleagues, published their study in Cell Transplantation (18:7), now freely available on-line at http://www.