Lung Transplant Research Program

The Lung Transplant Research Program within the Mayo Clinic Transplant Research Center conducts research to address challenges associated with lung transplantation.

Research focus areas

Research focus areas in the Lung Transplant Research Program include:

  • Improving HLA antibody testing
  • Managing immunosuppression
  • Improving post-transplant quality of life
  • Managing chronic lung rejection

Here's a closer look at the focus areas.

Improving HLA antibody testing

Mayo Clinic lung transplant researchers are working to improve the accuracy and application of tests for human leukocyte antigen (HLA) antibodies.

For example, physicians now use a single antigen beads test to identify HLA antibody compatibility. This test has improved safety in human solid organ transplantation. Work continues in combining this approach with novel pathology techniques to improve the specificity and sensitivity of both approaches.

Managing immunosuppression

Researchers are studying ways to modulate immunosuppressive medications for patients undergoing lung transplantation. The goal is to minimize rejection of transplanted lungs while reducing side effects from immunosuppressive medications, including infection, renal failure and the development of malignancies.

The side effects of immunosuppressive medications can be especially challenging for lung transplant patients who may be frail or weak before and after transplantation.

Identifying the correct type and dose of immunosuppressive medication is critical to prevent organ rejection. In the short term, rejection can damage function of transplanted lungs, and in the long term it can result in failure of the transplanted lungs.

Physician-scientists also are investigating the effectiveness of different immunosuppressive medications, comparing patient outcomes using traditional calcineurin inhibitors (such as cyclosporine and tacrolimus) with mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) inhibitors (such as sirolimus).

Mayo Clinic researchers have shown that mTOR inhibitors prevent the progression of coronary artery disease and can slow the development of renal dysfunction. These mTOR inhibitors can reduce cellular proliferation and may also slow the development of malignancies.

Elimination of the routine use of induction treatment with antibodies directed against human T cells has proved beneficial in avoiding virally driven malignancies of lymphocytes in patients who didn't require these agents.

Ongoing areas of active research include kidney-sparing strategies and the reduction of malignancies after lung transplantation.

Improving post-transplant quality of life

Researchers in the Lung Transplant Research Program are exploring ways to improve the quality of life for patients after lung transplantation.

Many patients have problems eating and are frail before their lung transplant because of pulmonary disease. Therefore, researchers are developing weight management and nutrition programs to improve health and quality of life after lung transplantation.

Managing chronic lung rejection

Lung transplant researchers at Mayo Clinic are conducting research to reduce rejection after lung transplantation.

Investigators are exploring ways to reduce obliterative bronchiolitis, a progressive and serious airway complication, and restrictive allograft syndrome, a lung fibrosis and scarring process. Researchers are also investigating methods to improve monitoring of antibody-mediated rejection.

Program faculty

Here's a list of faculty in the Lung Transplant Research Program by campus location.

Arizona

  • Lanza, Louis A., M.D.
  • Pajaro, Octavio E., M.D., Ph.D.
  • Sista, Ramachandra R., M.D.

Florida

  • Agnew, Richard C., M.D.
  • Alvarez, Francisco, M.D.
  • Hosenpud, Jeffrey D. M.D.
  • Landolfo, Kevin, M.D.
  • Keller, Cesar A., M.D.
  • Mallea, Jorge M., M.D.
  • Thomas, Mathew, M.D.
  • Yi, Daniel S., M.D.

Minnesota