Liver Transplantation

The Mayo Clinic Rochester Liver Transplant Program has performed more than 1,400 liver transplant procedures since 1985 and has consistently achieved patient survival and graft survival rates that are significantly higher than the national averages. The Mayo Clinic Liver Transplant Program is currently involved in a variety of initiatives directed toward the improvement of patient care before, during and after liver transplantation. The Mayo Clinic Liver Transplant Program has been at the forefront of transplant research since its inception, publishing over 400 clinical and basic research articles in peer reviewed journals and developing the system for organ allocation that is used nationally. Areas of special research interest include:

Hepatitis C

Hepatitis C is the most common cause of liver failure requiring transplantation and is a major focus of transplant research at Mayo. Mayo Clinic hepatologists are currently involved in basic and clinical research in the study of hepatitis C. Basic research is focused on the development of a mouse model of hepatitis C infection that will facilitate the development of new anti-hepatitis C drugs. In addition, several innovative clinical trials are in progress. We are currently evaluating agents that reduce the susceptibility of the transplanted liver to injury from hepatitis C and also new antiviral agents with activity against the hepatitis C virus. We are also one of four liver transplant centers in the world studying an antibody (immunoglobulin) directed against hepatitis C. These clinical trials are designed to reduce the incidence and severity of recurrence of hepatitis C after liver transplantation.

Hepatitis B

We are currently evaluating a new formulation of hepatitis B immunoglobulin with a goal of reducing the impact and cost of recurrence of hepatitis B infection. We are also, in partnership with the National Institutes of Health, evaluating the role of a potent new antiviral drug, adefovir dipivoxil, in the treatment of post-transplant hepatitis B infection.

Immunosuppression

The Mayo Clinic Rochester Liver Transplant Program has played an important role in the development of immunosuppressive medications that are cornerstones of successful liver transplantation. This work is continuing with studies of novel immunosuppressive agents that hold the promise of lower side effects, such as kidney toxicity -- a major cause of long-term illness following liver transplantation.

Acute Liver Failure and Bioartificial Liver Support

Mayo Clinic Liver Transplant researchers are investigating medical therapy for acute liver failure. This work includes developing and studying an artificial liver support device designed to keep patients with acute liver failure alive while awaiting emergency liver transplantation. Some patients may gain enough time to enable recovery, obviating the need for transplantation. We are also participating in a National Institutes of Health-sponsored study of medical treatment of acute liver failure.

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