Houston Liver Transplant: New Research Improves Hepatitis C Immunity
Researchers from Japan have discovered a new way to improve immune response in people with Hepatitis C following a liver transplant. Liver transplants often play a crucial and life-saving role in treating patients with Hepatitis C virus (HCV). Unfortunately, nearly all liver transplants result in re-infection of the HCV. As a result, researches have long been devoted to improving the body’s immunity against re-infection of Hepatitis C.
Experts estimate that approximately 200 million people are infected with Hepatitis C, and it’s the number cause of liver transplants in America. As a result, the medical community has been devoted to finding a way to prevent new, healthy livers from re-infection of HCV.
The 50% of people who do not respond to HCV therapy are vulnerable to further liver damage. Liver failure and liver cancer are two grim outcomes of chronic HCV. For the majority of these patients, a successful liver transplant is their last hope. Within the first few days after transplant surgery, it is common for Hepatitis C viral loads to escalate back to pre-transplant levels.
Researchers from Hiroshima University in Japan conducted a trial to test the HCV suppression ability of transplanted immune cells. They performed the following steps in order to tackle the deficit of the immune response:
- Extracted lymphocytes (immune cells) from donor livers prior to transplant.
- Activated the lymphocytes in viro.
- Injected patients with the activated lymphocytes three days after liver transplant.
Researchers were overjoyed to discover that this method kept HCV levels low in most of the HCV-infected patients who received a liver transplant. Lymphocytes are small white blood cells that conduct most of the immune system’s actions and number about one trillion in each individual.
The two main categories of lymphocytes are B Cells (produce specific antibodies to infectious microorganisms) and T Cells (kill infectious microorganisms by destroying the infected body cells). T Cells also release chemicals called cytokines that initiate the immune response.
Although more research is necessary to investigate the clinical applicability of injecting lymphocytes to control Hepatitis C, the authors of the study believe that this new method is a novel approach for the inhibition of HCV replication in liver transplant patients.
If you, or anyone you know, is suffering from liver damage, Hepatitis C, liver cirrhosis, or any other gastrointestinal disorder, please contact Bay Area Gastroenterology clinic at (281) 480-6264 to schedule your immediate appointment.
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