We aim to establish a new tool to quantify the activity of the immune system in kidney transplant patients. If the kidneys stop working a kidney transplant can restore the kidney function. However, our immune system would recognize the new kidney as foreign and attack it. Therefore kidney-transplant recipients need drugs to reduce the function of their immune system. These drugs are called immunosuppressive drugs. If the patients take too much drugs their immune system is weak and they get infections.
Gregor Bond, Project Coordinator
THE TT VIRUS
We need something like an ‘immunometer’; a tool to quantify the activity of the immune system and thereby optimize the drug dose. We believe that the recently discovered TT virus can do this job. The TT virus is unique: it is naturally occurring in the blood of every healthy person and every kidney transplant recipient but it causes no disease. If the immune system is strong, the TT virus load is low; this indicates a risk for organ rejection. If the immune system is weak the TT virus load is high; this indicates a risk for infection.
We believe that, the quantification of the TT virus load in the blood of kidney transplant recipients can help optimize immunosuppressive drugs and thus reduce infections and rejection. Within our EU funded project TT virus guided dosing of immunosuppressive drugs will be tested in a clinical trial including hundreds of kidney transplant recipients from all over Europe. Once established in routine clinical care, TT virus guidance might reduce thousands of infections and kidney transplant rejection each year. In the future the TT virus might not only help kidney transplant recipients but also patients with liver, heart and lung transplantation and guide therapy in autoimmune, infectious and oncologic diseases.
PATIENT ADVISORY BOARD
The TTV GUIDE TX project will involve patients throughout its duration: the consortium will be assisted and advised by a Patient Advisory Board (PAB) able to incorporate patients’ needs and views throughout the project. The PAB will support patient-friendly developments in the healthcare sector and help take the views and needs of patients into account as much as possible throughout the project.
The TTV GUIDE TX project will closely work together with The European Kidney Patients’ Federation (EKPF), the European umbrella organisation for 23 national kidney patients’ associations.
The TTV GUIDE TX project has already incorporated patient engagement at the stage of trial design: kidney transplant representatives emphasised the anticipated reduction in the burden caused by infectious disease as an important patient-centred outcome. The pragmatic design of the clinical study will increase patients’ compliance with the protocol: patients approved the specific measures to reduce participant risk during the trial, appreciated the lack of additional visits required for the trial and the possibility of travel reimbursement.