Immune system rejects kidney
If the kidneys stop working, a kidney transplant can restore kidney function. It is possible that the immune system does not recognize the new kidney as its own and then attacks it. Therefore, kidney transplant patients need drugs (immunosuppressants) to reduce that function of their immune system. However, if the patients take too much medicine, their immune system becomes too weak and they get infections.
Virus can determine immune system activity
That’s why transplant doctors need something to determine the exact level of immune system activity. Knowing this, they can then prescribe the exact amount of the medicine. “The recently discovered TT virus could do this. TT occurs naturally in the blood of almost every healthy person and every recipient of a kidney transplant, but it does not cause disease,” according to the UMCG. If the immune system is strong, the TT virus load is low; this indicates a risk of organ rejection. If the immune system is weak, the TT virus load is high; this indicates a risk of infection.
Preventing rejection of transplanted kidneys
The quantification of the TT virus load in the blood of kidney transplant recipients can help optimize the amount of medication and thus reduce infections and rejection. The study is testing TT virus-mediated dosing of immunosuppressants in a clinical trial involving 300 kidney transplant patients from across Europe. Once applied in everyday clinical care, it could reduce thousands of infections and rejection of transplanted kidneys every year. In the future, the TT virus could help not only recipients of kidney transplants, but also patients with liver, heart and lung transplantation and guidance in autoimmune, infectious and oncological diseases.
Happy about this research
Kidney transplant patients from the UMCG can participate in this study. The virus tests are performed by the Department of Medical Microbiology and Virology. Virologist Coretta van Leer is pleased that the UMCG is participating and that this research has now started: ‘We have been looking at possible applications of this virus in transplant patients for some time. This European project offers us the opportunity to investigate this.’
Research TTV GUIDE TX
This research, called TTV GUIDE TX, is coordinated by the Medical University of Vienna (Austria) and takes place in 7 EU countries. There is close cooperation with the European umbrella organization of kidney patient associations. The research will last 5 years. It has received a total of 6 million euros in support from the European Union.
TT virus could make kidney transplants safer
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