Good News for Burn Victims and New Organ Recipients

SurgeryIn the thriller Blood Work the hero is played by Clint Eastwood, an aging detective with a serious heart disease. After chasing a serial killer he succumbs to a heart attack and wakes to realize he had a received a normally difficult to obtain matching donor heart.At first considering his “good luck” he soon realizes a horrific plot twist that highlights a sad reality. Thousand of people are dying needlessly, and many more are forced to live with a severe disability, because not enough matching donor organs are available.

If an organ is transplanted into the wrong kind or poorly prepared host the bodies own immune system attacks the organ in an attempt to destroy a perceived foreign invader. In case of rejection inflammation will occur at either the transplant site or spread throughout the entire body causing local or systemic problems with potentially fatal outcomes.

Prior to an organ transplant, be it a skin graft, liver, lung, cornea, or heart transplant numerous test can be used to determine the least likely rejection potential. Chiefly among them is a blood type compatibility test.

However, unless the transplant is from the same body or an identical twin, the potential for rejections is omnipresent. To further reduce the risk of organ rejection physicians have taken to using drugs such as corticosteroids to suppress the immune-system and in doing so hoping to prevent new organ rejection.

Drugs are given alone or in combination, as a single course treatment, or in succession. All pharmaceutical options come with their own risk of adverse effects ranging. Some mild, some moderate, and some severe. For instance, corticosteroid use (most commonly employed) while immunosuppressive also cause the obvious increased vulnerability to microbes and infection. A long list of adverse effects also include cardiovascular problems, endocrine changes including diabetes, psychiatric problems such as psychosis or anxiety to name but a few.

So, it comes a no surprise that researchers are looking for new and saver ways to support organ transplants. And now, researchers from the South Carolina School of Medicine explored a potentially promising new method to prevent rejection made from cannabis.

In a placebo controlled rodent experiments scientist discovered that mice receiving THC (cannabis-based molecule) significantly delayed skin graft rejections, the target goal in organ transplants. And, that the results were primarily achieved via CB1 receptor sites.

This is potentially good news for patients receiving organ transplant, those in need of reconstructive surgeries, burn victims, and those receiving skin graft.

Sido J. M., P. S. Nagarkatti, Mitzi Nagarkatti. Δ9-Tetrahydrocannabinol attenuates allogeneic host-versus-graft response and delays skin graft rejection through activation of cannabinoid receptor 1 and induction of myeloid-derived suppressor cells. September 2015. Journal of Leukocyte Biology, vol. 98 no. 3 435-447.

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