The Lawrence Transplant Foundation
1629 K Street, N.W.
Washington, DC 20006
The Lawrence Transplant Foundation intends to fund the leading research organizations working in the most promising areas of investigation focused on improving the survival and quality of life of transplant patients.
Transplant Biology Research Center
The first focus of effort of The Lawrence Transplant Foundation is raising funds to support the groundbreaking research being done at Harvard's Transplant Biology Research Center (TBRC) at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston , Massachusetts. Dr. David H. Sachs, founder of this world-renowned organization, has long been at the forefront of transplant immunology research.
Early in his career, Dr. Sachs decided to focus his research on addressing problems inherent in organ transplants. His research primarily developed in response to two different obstacles in the transplant process: organ availability and post-transplant rejection of the donated organ.
A traditional transplant ( Allotransplantation ) involves transplantation of an organ from a human donor. Some organs (like kidneys) can be transplanted from a living donor, but most organs are made available through the generosity of a bereaved family after losing a loved one. Allotransplantation requires matching of the blood type and other factors for success. The process of matching a donated organ with a recipient is a process fraught with time critical considerations.
One of the most exciting areas of the TBRC's research is Tolerance Induction , a method by which the patient's bone marrow is augmented with the donor's bone marrow. When the donor's organ is transplanted into the patient, the body recognizes it as ‘self', thereby eliminating rejection or the need to take antirejection medication. The story of Dr. Sachs' young patient, Jennifer (Searl) Duran , is a case in point. As a young teenager she had a traditional kidney transplant followed by years of complications including organ rejection in spite of taking a heavy regimen of antirejection medication. Then, in 2002 her case was brought to the attention of the TBRC. She underwent the tolerance induction procedure developed at the TBRC, which opened the door for a non-matched kidney transplant. Since then she has had no need to take any medication and has felt so well that she has trained for and completed her first marathon!
Over 30 years ago, Dr. Sachs began researching the possibility of transplanting organs from animals into humans ( Xenotransplantation ). He investigated the viability of using different animal species and eventually selected miniature swine (same size as human) as the ideal cross-species donors. Over the years he and his team have worked to develop a strain of these pigs have been genetically altered to remove the target of an antibody in humans that causes pig organ rejection. Already these organs have survived several months in baboons without signs of rejection (That's Some Pig) . The pigs can be raised to provide an endless supply of organs for human transplant.
The Lawrence Transplant Foundation is excited about these tremendous advances and hopes to provide significant additional funding to TBRC so that Dr. Sachs and his team can focus on their research rather than spending inordinate amounts of time writing grants to seek funding. To find out more, check the Resources segment of this site.