​​close-up of assorted pills

The goal of this research pillar is to identify new uses for old drugs or compounds that never made it to clinical practice. We aim to find new treatments for:

  • Metabolic Complications
    Transplant patients are more likely to suffer from metabolic complications, with almost every second recipient developing diabetes. One of the main causes of such metabolic complications are antirejection drugs, which are essential for the health of the donated organ (graft). Other factors include increasing age, obesity, and gender.
  • Fatty Liver Disease
    Although fatty liver disease is an increasingly common reason for liver transplantation, up to 20% of patients develop the disease again after the procedure. We are looking for causes of why this happens at the molecular level and have found indicators (biomarkers) of fatty liver disease, which will help us prevent and treat this condition in transplant patients and in the population at large.
  • Liver Cancer
    Up to 40% of liver transplant recipients are cancer patients. However, 15 – 20% of these patients develop recurrent cancer after transplantation, which affects their survival. We have determined biomarkers that will help us identify patients who are at higher risk of cancer recurrence post-transplant. We hope to pinpoint these patients in order to screen them and prevent recurrent cancer.
  • Kidney Graft Rejection
    Although kidney transplantation improves the quality of life for patients with end-stage renal disease and eliminates their dependence on dialysis, antibody-mediated rejection remains the leading cause of premature loss of a donated kidney. Unfortunately, there are currently no effective ways to treat antibody-mediated rejection. We are examining kidney tissue biopsies on the molecular level, as well as types of antibodies directed against the graft to better understand how we can stop the negative effect of the antibodies.
  • Kidney Scarring
    The progressive scarring of the donated kidney, called fibrosis, is responsible for more than 30% of premature kidney loss. Fibrosis is progressive, its effects are irreversible and it is difficult to diagnose in early stages. We are using the knowledge gained from our prior studies of kidney cells exposed to substances that cause a scar, to identify new treatments and the accompanying indicators of kidney graft fibrosis.

We are approaching the listed problems in a systematic manner. We are developing experimental models for the diseases and are studying biopsies from our patients. We will then apply a careful bioinformatics approach to identify molecular pathways. With this knowledge, we can identify new drugs.

Malignant and Metabolic Complications of Transplantation
Dr. Mamatha Bhat
Email: mamatha.bhat@uhn.ca

Antibody-Mediated Rejection and Fibrosis of the Kidney Allograft
Dr. Ana Konvalinka
Email: ana.konvalinka@uhn.ca ​​