Research from the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center has doctors hopeful for boosted acceptance rates of corneal transplants.
A corneal transplant, also known as a corneal graft, is when a donor cornea replaces some or all of another’s damaged cornea. The most common disorder requiring a transplant is keratoconus (a progressive thinning of the cornea), but corneal ulcers and complications from eye surgery can also cause injury to the cornea and require a transplant. Of those that receive corneal transplants, roughly 10% of patients’ bodies reject the donor.
This new study was designed to find a method to raise the transplant acceptance rate. The data is promising because it supports the belief that the trigger in the immune system that rejects the transplant is linked to a matching of molecules, something that was previously thought to be untrue.
As one of the most experienced and skilled corneal transplant surgeons in Central Texas, ophthalmologist Clayton Falknor, M.D. explains why this is good news.
“Although most patients receiving their first corneal transplant do not need blood type or HLA system matching with the donor, the success rate in repeat transplants after immune rejection certainly decreases. It will be a tremendous breakthrough when we can either block immune rejection of transplants more effectively or prevent it altogether. Hopefully the research looking at blocking IFN-gamma and HLA matching will lead to effective future treatment.”