Dr. Sang-Mo Kang's research is primarily dedicated to achieving what is commonly called "allo-specific transplant tolerance" - a specialized method of preventing the rejection of a transplanted organ without suppressing the entire immune system.
Currently, transplant recipients must receive immunosuppressive drugs to suppress their own white blood cells (T cells) that attack foreign cells and cause organ rejections. Unfortunately, these non-specific drugs affect the entire immune system and thus carry significant risks for infection and certain malignancies. The goal of our research is to eliminate the need for global immunosuppression in transplant recipients. Ideal immunotherapy would be one that targets only the donor-specific immune cells that cause rejection, without affecting any of the other immune cells, thus leaving the immune system intact and able to function at full capacity.
Toward this end, we are currently conducting several experiments to gain insight into the mechanisms of rejection. These projects include the use of specialized immune cells in targeting specific lymphoid organs, as well as investigations into the contributions of CD+4 T cells and CD8 T cells to the process of transplant rejection. Our laboratory's work is helping to define important parameters for potential treatments in humans.