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New Hope for Organ Transplant Patients

CHERTSEY, England, March 24, 2014 /PRNewswire/ --

A recent study supported by an Astellas European Foundation Grant has identified potential therapeutic targets for transplantation treatment research. The study, carried out by Dr Nuria Lloberas, examined whether changing specific proteins in the body leads to a reduction in the immuno-inflammatory response thus lowering the risk of organ rejection.  

Dr Lloberas, from Hospital Universitario de Bellvitge, Barcelona, received the Astellas European Foundation Transplantation Grant in 2007 to support her research culminating in her findings, 'Dendritic cells (DC) phenotype fitting under hypoxia or LPS. ABC transporters far beyond an efflux pump' appeared in Clinical  and  Experimental  Immunology  Journal.[1] The study focused on ABC transporters to see whether they are essential in the development of maturing immune cells in an oxygen-deprived microenvironment. The modulation of these maturing cells through ABC transporters could be a potential target to reduce immuno-inflammatory responses in organ transplantation.

Dr Lloberas said, "As DC are the most potent Antigen-Presenting Cells (APC) of the immune system, it is crucial to know the underlying mechanisms in their activation. Furthermore, their ability to change their phenotype and function depending on their stage of maturation is an interesting target in immune system modulation towards tolerance in solid organs transplant. The first goal of our work was to study the contribution of ABC molecules in       DC maturation and, in a second step, we are studying whether ABC transporter proteins under different immunosuppressive therapies are able to modify DC maturation states and potentially ABC pro-inflammatory substrates. Our study will provide more information on DC migration and maturation requirements, considering that ABC molecules transporters have a potential target in DC-based immunosuppressive therapies."

Over 30,000 transplants are performed per year in Europe.[2]   Success in transplantation has occurred through innovations in surgical and patient care and the development of immunosuppressive therapies. There is a need to increase the specificity of immunosuppression in order to improve efficacy and tolerability profiles. Identifying novel targets for the immune system is an important step in the development of such specific immunotherapies.

Dr Ayad Abdulahad, Astellas European Foundation Trustee and Senior Vice President Medical Affairs and Health Economics for Astellas Pharma Europe Ltd. stated: "I am delighted to see the progress made by the 2007 Grant winners. The team was selected because its work was seen to have the potential to identify new routes that researchers can target. Dr Lloberas and the team's work highlights ABC-transporters as potential targets in immunosuppressive therapies."

The Astellas European Foundation Transplantation Grant for 2014 will be awarded in September.  A grant of US$150,000 will be awarded to the successful research unit or institution. The Grant will be offered for extensive and meaningful research in the area of transplantation. "We receive many entries from across Europe for the Astellas European Foundation Grants. We look forward to receiving many more entries again for this coming year," said Dr Abdulahad.

Application forms will be available in May of 2014. Please contact [email protected] or call +44(0)203-379-8039.


  1. Lloberas, N.  Dendritic cells (DC) phenotype fitting under hypoxia or LPS. ABC transporters far beyond an efflux pump. Clinical  and  Experimental  Immunology  Journal  2013 Jun;172(3):444-54
  2. Matesanz, R. International  Figures  on  Donation  and  Transplantation  2012, Council of Europe, European Committee, Vol. 18, No. 1, September 2013

Notes  to  Editors 

About The Astellas European Foundation

The Astellas European Foundation is a registered charity, formed in 2005, with the long-term goal of providing support for programmes and activities that contribute to the advancement of an increasingly healthy society. In line with this aim, the Foundation made substantial donations to global charities. The Astellas European Foundation also supports Astellas employees in their private fundraising efforts for charitable causes. The Astellas European Foundation is registered with the Charity Commission for England and Wales, number 1036344.

The Astellas European Foundation was established by funding from Astellas Pharma Inc, but operates independently of it.

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