Our immune system keeps us safe from dangerous bacteria and viruses. But it also treats a life-saving heart or kidney transplant as an invader and ultimately destroys it. What new methods are researchers developing to allow transplanted organs to survive longer in hosts? Can they use the body's own immune-controlling cells to rein in immune attacks on organ transplants? And can they find ways to use organs from animals to provide substitutes for donated human organs, which are in short supply?
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David K. C. Cooper
David Cooper is a professor of surgery at the Thomas E. Starzl Transplantation Institute of the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. As a former heart transplant surgeon, he concluded that the major limiting factor in all transplant programs is the inadequate number of organs that become available from deceased human donors. In an effort to develop a new unlimited source of organs and cells for transplantation in patients, he and his colleagues are exploring the possibility of using organs and cells from genetically engineered pigs for this purpose.
Dr. Vu Nguyen is an Assistant Professor at the University of Chicago. He currently studies the development and function of regulatory T cells (Tregs) and the role of the microflora in models of hematologic malignancies and stem cell transplantation. His laboratory is particularly interested in dissecting regulatory pathways that control tissue and organ-specific immunity.
When he isn't wrestling small crocodilians, Mitch Leslie writes about immunology and cell biology for Science.