McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine
faculty member Vijay Gorantla, MD, PhD (pictured), associate professor of surgery, Department of Surgery in the Division of Plastic Surgery at the University of Pittsburgh and Administrative Director of the Pittsburgh Reconstructive Transplantation Program at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC), will soon host a team of medical professionals from the Government Stanley Hospital, India. The Indian medical team will travel to the University of Pittsburgh to study the hand transplant program conducted here, and at other centers, such as Louisville, KY. They will also learn about regenerative medicine approaches during a visit to the McGowan Institute.
Since March 2009, there have been five patients who received hand transplants at the UPMC—two patients received single hand transplants, and three patients received bilateral hand transplants. Although other surgeons from around the world have performed hand transplants successfully, they have used a conventional protocol of multiple immunosuppressive medications to prevent rejection of the grafts, increasing the risk of diabetes, infections, hypertension, and other disorders.
In contrast, surgeons at UPMC have implemented a two-phase protocol that involves initial antibody treatment followed by donor bone marrow cell therapy. The goal is not merely to suppress the immune system, but to change the way it functions. Under the protocol, hand transplant patients receive antibodies to help overcome the initial overwhelming immune response. That is followed by a bone marrow infusion from the hand donor within 15 days after the surgery. Hand transplant patients are treated with tacrolimus, a drug that was first used in liver transplants by UPMC’s Thomas E. Starzl, MD, PhD, more than 2 decades ago to prevent graft rejection.
India’s Principal Health Secretary V.K. Subburaj recently announced the training plan during the first Indian symposium on hand transplantation, which was organized by the Institute for Hand and Reconstructive Microsurgery of the Government Stanley Hospital. The future hand transplant program will focus on the 3,000 to 4,000 persons in India who have lost their hands in accidents.
More than 66 hand transplants have been performed at institutions around the world. The longest surviving hand transplant is the first U.S. recipient at almost 12 years.
Illustration: McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine.
The Hindu (08/22/10)
UPMC: Hand Transplant Frequently Asked Questions
McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine In the News: “Pittsburgh Protocol” Used Third Time in Nation’s Second Bilateral Hand Transplant
Bio: Dr. Vijay Gorantla