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20th March 2017 Latest News

Improving Outcomes for Transplant Patients


One in three Australians are at risk of being diagnosed with chronic kidney disease in their lifetime.

For this reason, researchers are working tirelessly to ensure people living with this condition have the best treatment available to them, informed by the latest research.

Sadly, in many cases chronic kidney disease can lead to kidney failure or end stage kidney disease, where the function of the kidney completely stops and regular dialysis is inevitable. For these patients, if they are lucky, they can undergo a kidney transplant to prolong life, though unfortunately this comes with complications of its own.

Dr Rob Carroll, Transplant Nephrologist at the Royal Adelaide Hospital, is busy behind the scenes investigating ways of improving outcomes and quality of life for patients with kidney disease who undergo a kidney transplant.

“We’re involved in new research looking at inflammatory markers in people’s urine, and whether it could be used to predict if someone’s body will reject a new kidney,” Dr Carroll said.

“There is good data to suggest that if you look at someone’s urine and they have these particular inflammatory markers, their new kidney won’t last as long as people who have no inflammation in their urine.”

Currently clinicians wait for blood test results to change to determine if a patient’s new kidney will inevitably be rejected, but this groundbreaking research could allow specialists to be more preemptive and predict the likelihood of rejection.

“This research is a game changer. We should be able to say to a patient – your kidney is inflamed so we’re going to treat you with a specific protocol because we know on average your kidney will do better than if we just wait for your creatinine to rise or your kidney function to get worse.”

The second aspect of Dr Carroll’s research is trailing an immunotherapy treatment for incurable cancer after a patient has had a kidney transplant.

“Having kidney failure increases a patient’s risk of developing malignancy but having immunosuppressant on top of that makes you at five times more risk of getting cancer compared to the general population. In general, these malignancies are a lot more aggressive,” Dr Carroll said.

“This immunotherapy has revolutionised treatment for melanoma in the general population and we want to see if it is effective in patients with a kidney transplant and cancer.

 “Now any transplant patient who develops an incurable malignancy, who can’t have surgery or tolerate chemotherapy, they have the choice to be exposed to this new treatment.”

Dr Carroll is confident the future for transplant patients could be a lot brighter.

“Ideally we want to get to the point where we can utilise new technologies to personalise a transplant patient’s treatment, to make sure we’re keeping their kidney happy but also reducing complications like infection or malignancy.”