Since the first organ transplant nearly half a century ago, patients are living longer after transplant than ever before. This is all thanks to the research efforts of physicians and scientists to better understand the immunologic basis of transplant and to develop more effective immunosuppressive medicines.
Despite improvements in transplant survival over the years, there remain factors that limit both survival and quality of life post-transplant. There is considerable variability between individuals in outcomes after a solid organ transplant. This includes differences in how some individuals respond to treatment, outcomes, and side-effects. The reasons for this variability are poorly understood, but a large part of these differences are likely genetic. Today, advances in technology permit us to scan the whole genome of an individual. This sophisticated technology opens new opportunities to investigate how genetic variation contributes to clinical outcomes.
This SickKids Transplant Centre research initiative has resulted in the establishment of the first pediatric cross-organ transplant biorepository in Canada. The goal is to apply knowledge of genomics and pharmacogenomics to research and practice of transplant medicine with the goal of eventually personalizing the care of these patients. Collaborations with stem cell experts will allow us to model disease to develop new therapies for end-stage organ disease. Through a cross-disciplinary approach, we hope to ultimately improve not only survival but also the quality of life for individuals after organ transplantation.