Dr. Manikkam Suthanthiran pursues research in transplantation immunology and molecular biology to improve outcomes following organ transplantation.
Molecular Medicine. Dr. Suthanthiran's laboratory has pioneered the development of noninvasive gene-based assays to ascertain kidney transplant status, which had previously required an invasive kidney biopsy procedure. The original study, first conducted at Weill Cornell, led to an NIH-sponsored multicenter Cooperative Clinical Trial in Transplantation comprised of 500 subjects from major transplant centers in the United States. Results of the molecular studies of transplant recipients were presented at the plenary sessions of the 2011 American Transplant Congress Annual Meeting and the 2011 International Transplantation Society Meeting. Based on the bench-to-bedside approach, this study has led to state-of-the-art, individualized care (personalized medicine) of kidney transplant recipients. Recently, Dr. Suthanthiran and his research team have determined the expression profiles of small RNAs considered as master regulators of immunity in kidney transplants.
Human Pancreatic Islet cell Transplantation. The first successful human islet cell transplantation in the tri-state area for the treatment of Type 1 diabetes mellitus was carried out at Weill Cornell by an interdisciplinary team led by Dr. Suthanthiran. His laboratory established a human islet cell isolation facility and successfully transplanted Type 1 diabetic recipients. In a bedside-to bench approach, the laboratory has developed approaches to meet the twin challenges of limited islet supply and their tendency toward early loss of function and successful transplantation without any immunosuppressive drugs.
Transplantation Without Immunosuppressive Therapy. The ultimate goal in organ transplantation is transplant tolerance, that is, transplantation of organs without any drug therapy. Dr. Suthanthiran's laboratory contributed to the first ever report on tolerance of mismatched kidney transplants, which was published in the New England Journal of Medicine. The ability to transplant a human organ without drug therapy is of exceptional significance. In recognition of their contribution, NewYork- Presbyterian/Weill Cornell was selected by the Immune Tolerance Network, NIH to conduct the innovative transplant tolerance trials. Recently, Dr. Suthanthiran and his colleagues identified a molecular signature in the urine of patients who are tolerant of kidney transplants. Their research findings were published in 2010 in a premier journal, The Journal of Clinical Investigation.
Personalized Medicine. In 2009, Dr. Suthanthiran and his team initiated the first ever study of immunosuppressive drug, tacrolimus, under the guidance of urinary cell gene expression patterns. This NIH-sponsored molecular monitoring study was also recognized by the awarding of the NIH MERIT Award in 2009 to Dr. Suthanthiran.
Outstanding Clinical Outcomes. The advances made in the laboratory have been translated to make organ transplants safer, offer personalized therapy, and move from a reactive treatment strategy to a preventive and predictive approach. This is reflected in part by kidney transplant patient and graft survival rates at Weill Cornell being significantly higher than expected survival rates.