Advancing Transplantation Breakthroughs

Patients in need of organ transplants face difficult odds — insufficient organs are available and anti–rejection drugs cause damaging side effects. The Woman’s Board is proud to have funded the successful Phase I trial of an alternative to anti–rejection drug therapy using the patient’s own immune system.

In 2014, The Woman’s Board funded a ground-breaking, first in human, Phase I clinical trial led by Joseph Leventhal, MD PhD which aims to remove the need for organ transplant patients to take immunosuppressive drugs by increasing the number of their own regulatory T cells.

Each year only 13% of patients on the kidney waiting list receive a transplant.  Many return after the first transplant organ fails.  The goal of T-Reg cell therapy is to increase the long-term function of transplants using the patient's own immune cells — reducing reliance on anti-rejection drugs. The trial was successful: no adverse effects were observed in the 9 patients who completed the trial, laying the foundation for a Phase II trial, with a treatment group of 50.

“We’re trying to use the patient’s own immune regulatory machinery, their own regulatory cells, to do the job in a way that would hopefully eliminate entirely or significantly the need for drug based immunosuppression.”

– Dr. Leventhal