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Publications of the Week

Prevention of Vascular-Allograft Rejection by Protecting the Endothelial Glycocalyx with Immunosuppressive Polymers

By August 16, 2021No Comments

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This week we profile a recent publication in Nature Biomedical Engineering from Dr. Erika Siren and
Haiming (Daniel) Luo (pictured) in Dr. Jayachandran Kizhakkedathu’s lab at the UBC Centre for Blood Research.

Can you provide a brief overview of your lab’s current research focus?

The Kizhakkedathu Lab is an interdisciplinary team of chemists, pathologists and engineers. As a collective, utilizing the various expertise of the lab, we devise novel polymer technology for multifunctional therapeutics. A subset of our suite of therapeutics include generation of universal blood for transfusion, organ/cell transplantation, safe iron removal in iron-overload patients, prevention of thrombotic events without bleeding side effects and antimicrobial/antifouling coatings for implantable devices.

What is the significance of the findings in this publication?

Organ transplant is an important procedure, particular to those with end-stage organ failure. Currently, global immunosuppressants are heavily relied on by transplant patients; it shuts down the recipient’s immune cells to decrease rejection. However, these drugs may leave the patient susceptible to infections and minimize the efficacy of vaccines as they work using immune cells in the body. This novel polymer technology – coated onto the blood vessels of the organ – was able reduce organ rejection following transplantation. By leveraging the multivalent presentation of polymers and the localized effect of cell surface engineering, immunosuppression at the local level of the organ was achieved without compromising the activity of immune cells elsewhere in the body.

What are the next steps for this research?

The procedure has only been tested in blood vessels and kidneys in mice, we are looking at applying this technology to other models and organs to assess its limitations and further confirm its translational potential to a healthcare setting. While that’s ongoing, we are excitedly working on new generations of this technology to further apply to other biomedical settings (potentially: transfusion, cell transplantation and tissue engineering).

Funding Sources:

The research was supported by CIHR, NSERC, UBC, SFU, the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada, GlycoNet and the Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research.


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