Advancing Transplantation Breakthroughs at Northwestern Medicine: Procurement of Leukapheresis Products from Normal Volunteers and Renal Failure Patients for Immunological Studies

Project: Research project

Project Details


CTC researcher Joseph Leventhal, MD, PhD, transplant surgeon at Northwestern Memorial Hospital and professor of surgery and director of kidney and pancreas transplantation at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, is specifically focusing on the immune system in hopes that induced tolerance can be achieved, thereby eliminating the need for immunosuppressant medications that weaken an organ recipient’s immune system. Dr. Leventhal is actively engaged in potentially groundbreaking studies that may very soon enable kidney recipients to live completely free of anti‐rejection medication. In these studies, he is using cells derived from the transplant donor or recipient as therapeutics to achieve immune tolerance and therefore minimize or eliminate entirely the need for drug based immunosuppression. One such study has reached Phase III in clinical trials and involves the engineering of stem cells from kidney donors that make an organ recipient’s immune system recognize the kidney as its own, instead of instinctively attacking the organ as a foreign object. Donor stem cells are specially engineered to “trick” the recipients’ immune system into thinking the donated organ is part of the patient’s natural self, thus gradually reducing or completely eliminating the need for anti‐rejection medication. This promising study was first published in the March 2012 journal Science Translational Medicine. Clinical trials have already enabled 50 percent of its patients to stop taking all anti‐rejection medications in just one year after they received a new kidney (one of these patients is featured in the next page). Dr. Leventhal’s study is the first of its kind where the donor and recipient do not have to be related or immunologically matched.
Effective start/end date6/1/145/31/15


  • Northwestern Memorial Hospital (agr. 07/01/2014)


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