Using extracorporeal photophoresis to prevent graft rejection

Technology Overview

Yuk LawDr. Yuk LawIn his work as a pediatric cardiologist and researcher, Dr. Yuk Law focuses on improving clinical management of children who receive a heart transplant. Over the past decades, mortality in the first year after pediatric heart transplant has decreased dramatically. However, little improvement has been made in extending event-free survival beyond the first year. The long-term adverse effects of solid organ transplants are mainly caused by the recipient's immune system attacking the transplanted organ, which sustains damage over time.

Improving the length and quality of life after a pediatric heart transplant will require new therapeutic strategies. Therefore, in addition to researching biomarkers related to transplant outcomes and drugs for pediatric transplant patients, Dr. Law is collaborating with investigators at Bloodworks Northwest, a premier blood bank and research institute, on studies of a new post-transplant treatment approach.

Extracorporeal photophoresis (ECP) is approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for treating cutaneous T cell lymphoma. ECP shows promise for other conditions including graft versus host disease and solid organ transplant rejection. In ECP, peripheral blood is removed from the patient and white blood cells are isolated by centrifugation. This cellular fraction is treated with a photoactivatable compound and exposed to ultraviolet light, which triggers apoptosis. When the treated cells are returned to the patient, they induce a specific immune quiescence, reducing adverse reactions against the transplanted organ without causing systemic immunosuppression.

Based on preliminary clinical success from adult thoracic transplant recipients, Dr. Law and collaborators at Bloodworks Northwest, a premier Transfusion Medicine institute, have evidence to support additional ECP research. Dr. Law is interested in partnerships to: 1) investigate the mechanism of action of ECP in transplant patients, 2) determine the optimal timing and course of ECP treatment, and 3) identify biomarkers to monitor treatment effects. Dr. Law's team is interested in connecting with other transplant centers to create a patient registry and explore useful biomarkers in preparation for organizing a multicenter clinical trial to study if ECP improves short and long-term outcomes after transplant.

Stage of Development

  • Pre-clinical ex vivo
  • Clinical trials

Partnering Opportunities

  • Collaborative research and development opportunity
  • Sponsored research agreement
  • Tissue sample access
  • Consultation agreement

Learn More

To learn more about partnering with Seattle Children’s Research Institute on this or other projects, please contact:

Dr. Elizabeth Aylward, Director 
Office of Science-Industry Partnerships 
Seattle Children's Research Institute 
818 Stewart St, Suite 603, M/S 818-S 
Seattle, WA 98101 
Email
206-844-1065