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Kidney Immunogenetics Helps Reduce Risk of Kidney Rejection STORY HIGHLIGHTS The UCLA Kidney Transplant Program is expanding transplantation to patients who, in the past, would have been unlikely to benefit due to increased immunological sensitivity. More than a half-century after revolutionizing organ transplantation by pioneering the use of tissue typing to match donors and recipients, the UCLA Kidney Transplant Program is helping to further expand the lifesaving procedure to patients who, in the past, would have been unlikely to benefit from kidney transplantation. Patients who are highly sensitized — those with particularly high antibody levels that react to foreign tissue — now are among those benefiting from these advances. These patients, including individuals who have had previous transplants, blood transfusions or pregnancies, are more difficult to match with potential donors and more challenging to successfully transplant. UCLA’s Immunogenetics Center, which is a World Health Organization reference laboratory for human leukocyte antigen (HLA) typing and cross-match testing, “is critical to our ability UCLAHEALTH.ORG 1-844-4UCLADR (1-844-482-5237) to reduce the risk of rejection for our patients,” says H. Albin Gritsch, MD, surgical director of the UCLA Kidney Transplant Program. Under the direction of Elaine Reed, PhD, professor of pathology, the UCLA Immunogenetics Center has developed tests to measure a patient’s response to donor tissue, including the development of anti-donor HLA antibodies. By identifying donor-specific antibodies that indicate a patient is at risk for transplant graft loss, the center has paved the way for tests that prospectively determine which transplant patients are most susceptible to rejection. The immunogenetics center also has worked closely with the transplant program to develop protocols for monitoring patients’ responses to therapy and for more successfully treating patients to prevent rejection. “This has allowed us to be more accurate in selecting