The purpose of this Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) is to solicit applications from institutions or organizations to participate in a cooperative research group focused on transplantation immunology research in three priority areas: 1) microbiota; 2) intravital imaging; and 3) targeted therapeutic delivery. This FOA stimulates the formation of interdisciplinary collaborations and facilitates the application of new scientific developments and technologies to the field of transplant immunology. Applying these advances to transplantation science will provide novel insights into the nature of alloimmune responses and reveal new avenues to diagnose, treat and prevent allograft rejection or promote immunologic tolerance.
Organ transplantation is the preferred treatment for end-stage organ failure when other interventions have failed. Basic, preclinical, and clinical research have provided a wealth of knowledge about the immune response in transplantation and revealed new therapeutic opportunities. This research has contributed to significant improvements in average one-year graft survival rates, exceeding 97% for kidney recipients. Nevertheless, organ transplantation does not restore normal life expectancy: for recipients of deceased donor kidneys, the ten-year graft survival rate is 50%; and among those with a functioning kidney graft, 10-year patient survival is only about 75%, indicating that the morbidities of immunosuppression contribute substantially to reduced patient survival. Immune-mediated rejection remains the primary cause of both short- and long-term graft failure. In addition, long-term dependency on immunosuppressive medications is associated with undesirable side effects that contribute to transplant-associated mortality and morbidity.
Recent advances that enable more sensitive and precise imaging have enhanced our understanding of the immune system, while innovations in drug delivery have the potential to improve safety and efficacy of therapeutics for multiple conditions. In addition, a growing body of research suggests that the microbiota has numerous bidirectional interactions with the host, not only affecting metabolism, but also influencing the body’s immune responses, most notably in the context of inflammation and infection. These findings have broad implications for biomedical science, yet the impact on transplantation immunology to date has been limited.
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