Sep. 22, 1998 Sept. 12, 1998 -- Mayo Clinic today announced the establishment of a major transplantation biology research program to be headed by one of the world's most renowned transplantation scientists.
Jeffrey L. Platt, M.D., has joined Mayo Clinic to head the new Transplantation Biology Research Group. The program is part of Mayo Clinic's recently announced initiative in basic and clinical research into the burgeoning field of xenotransplantation (the transplantation of organs and tissues from one species to another).
Dr. Platt said he and his team will "work to build a multifaceted program in transplantation biology to develop novel approaches to applying xenotransplantation therapies and overcoming hurdles to these therapies."
In May, Mayo Clinic announced the formation of a multidisciplinary Transplant Center, which will include a focused research effort into xenotransplantation.
"Dr. Platt is an internationally recognized scientist in the field of xenotransplantation research," said Christopher G. A. McGregor, M.D., interim Transplant Center director. "As such he has made significant contributions to the field. His knowledge, insight and experience in the challenges of xenotransplantation hopefully will enable solutions to be found to some of the remaining challenges of xenotransplantation. And he will be an essential part of the multidisciplinary team that we hope will one day make xenotransplantation a clinical reality."
The research program will investigate diverse approaches to solving the problems of transplantation in the areas of molecular biology, biochemistry and cellular biology.
"We plan on exploiting new and emerging technologies over the years to make further significant strides in the science of transplantation, " Dr. Platt said. "I hope as we build the program
we will develop the scientific framework and achieve an investigational creativity that will bring us new techniques on these problems, such as using cells in new locations, 'teaching' cells to work in new ways, and using gene therapies in new ways to achieve clinical success in transplantation."
Dr. Platt said he believes Mayo Clinic is uniquely situated to take advantage of the theoretical bridge between the basic science and the clinical practice of transplantation.
"Mayo Clinic already possesses incredible strength in clinical programs and an unparalleled ability to recognize medical problems that need solution," he said. "The gap in recent years between basic science and clinical practice has widened. Mayo Clinic is closing that gap in transplantation, cancer, molecular medicine and other areas -- bringing science and technology together in a strong clinical environment."
Dr. Platt also brings clinical training and experience to his research program. His clinical practice has included working with transplant patients and overcoming problems associated with transplant medicine.
Most xenotransplantation research studies the applicability of transplanting tissue and organs from pigs that have undergone a slight genetic modification so they do not trigger the standard human immune response that destroys the organ. Approaching this problem in a number of ways, the Mayo Clinic transplant research program will investigate:
* the antibodies that destroy pig cells
* the inflammatory components of blood
* the genetic engineering of pigs to lessen need for drug therapy
* the behavior of blood vessels as predictors of what's going to happen to the organ
* how vessels behave abnormally in transplants and how to correct this.
"The major challenge for all of us in the transplantation field is finding tissues and organs for the patients who need them," Dr. Platt said. "Twelve people die each day because of the lack of organs and tissues -- xenotransplantation offers a possible solution to this pressing problem."
In addition to his research duties, Dr. Platt is professor of immunology, surgery and pediatrics at Mayo Clinic, and a staff consultant in those departments.
Dr. Platt, 49, received his M.D. degree from the University of Southern California in 1977. Following his residency at the Children's Hospital of Los Angeles (1977-1980), he was a medical fellow in pediatric nephrology at the University of Minnesota (1980-1985). He went on to become assistant, then associate, professor of pediatrics, and associate professor of cell biology and neuroanatomy at the University of Minnesota. From 1992 until joining Mayo Clinic in 1998, he was at Duke University as the J. W. and D. W. Beard professor of surgery, and professor of pediatrics and immunology.
Recipient of numerous awards and honors for his work, Dr. Platt has been principal investigator or co-author on more than 300 scientific papers. He is on the editorial board of a number of scientific journals, including Transplantation, Transplant Immunology, and Journal of Heart and Lung Transplantation.
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