This is the third installment of our Biomed Bites series, a weekly feature that highlights some of Stanford’s most compelling research and introduces readers to innovative scientists from a variety of disciplines.
"Boost your immune system" is practically a mantra for some health-savvy folks who chug vitamin C or oregano oil (yep!) to ward off errant germs. But sometimes having a weaker immune system is a good thing. Take transplant patients: If their immune system attacks invaders with too much gusto, then the new organ is at risk as well.
But transplant patients don't want to completely dismantle their immune systems - and that's where Stanford immunologist Sheri Krams, PhD, comes in. "We want to specifically temper the immune response to that new foreign organ," Krams says about her work in the video above.
Transplant patients can survive for decades by taking immunosuppressive drugs, yet long-term use of these drugs can weaken bones, muscles and leave patients more vulnerable to infection. But through basic research, this basic transplant conundrum is changing, Krams says:
We've made major strides in the field of transplantation in the last few years... We're thinking that our research, in a very short period of time, will markedly improve the quality of life for transplant recipients and people that will be receiving stem cell transplants.
Becky Bach is a former park ranger and newspaper reporter who now spends her time writing about science or practicing yoga. She’s currently a science writing intern in the medical school’s Office of Communication & Public Affairs.
Previously: Stanford study in transplant patients could lead to better treatment, Extracting signal from noise to combat organ rejection and Kidney-transplant recipients party without drugs — immune-suppressing anti-rejection drugs, that is