Western Australians requiring organ transplants will benefit from the funding of a new microsurgical microscope within the immunology research lab at the Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital.
Charlies Foundation for Research recently funded the purchase of the microscope that is helping our researchers to develop and test an array of new drugs that will aid in the prevention of acute and chronic organ rejection. The $27,500 next-generation OPMI-7D is placed in the transplantation research laboratory, one of only a handful around the world.
Professor Michaela Lucas, a clinical immunologist at Charlies, says that the microscope will benefit patients who are expecting or have undergone solid organ transplantation as it is helping researchers develop the better, more tolerated anti-rejection medications, especially those which prevent chronic changes in transplanted organs.
Currently, transplant failure due to chronic rejection remains high, according to Prof Lucas.
“A lot of patients will lose their transplant after five years with only fifty to seventy per cent of organs still functioning after that time,” she says.
Professor Lucas and her team are running a number of trials in preclinical models and they practice micro-surgical techniques to study organ transplantation and rejection. These preclinical trials into kidney, heart, liver and soon also lung transplants allow the research team to trial new drugs for patients.
“It takes a lot of surgical skill to perform these surgical techniques and it requires high tech microscopes that are the same as those used for very detailed eye surgery.”
“A lot of the techniques require two surgeons to work together and our old microscope only allowed one surgeon to see what they were doing at any one time.”
The new microscope has been on the research team’s wish list for a long time, Professor Lucas says.
“We are so grateful to the Charlies Foundation that they funded this new microscope. Now my two surgeons can both work together during the procedures as it has a dual head.“
“The greatest benefit of this new equipment is that it allows us to do more efficient testing of new medications which will hopefully make it into clinical care.”
Professor Lucas said her team was getting a lot of interest from companies to test new transplantation drugs with the aim to prevent chronic rejection of transplanted organs. Importantly, the microscope will also give surgeons in training the opportunity to learn the most complex surgical skills.
“We are currently training junior surgeons who are coming through the system and wanting a transplantation surgical career,” Prof Lucas said.
She said the microscope is likely to attract researchers from all over Australia and the world to SCGH, ensuring better care and outcomes for our patients.
That’s good news for Western Australians – and it’s all thanks to the generosity of people like yourself!