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Transplantation of organs, tissues, etc.; Transplantation immunology; Graft rejection


A number of life-threatening diseases, such as kidney failure, diabetes, and certain kinds of coronary heart disease, can be cured by organ transplantation. However, despite decades of research, graft rejection remains a very real threat to the organ transplant recipient. In attempting to develop methods that interfere with the graft rejection process, scientists have uncovered a remarkably complex system of cellular interactions that allows the total destruction of a transplanted organ while leaving the recipient's own organs untouched. This ability to distinguish self from non-self is achieved through intercellular communication involving cell-to-cell contact and the release of a number of communication molecules. This tangled web of cellular interactions is the focus of a great deal of scientific interest since the solution to the graft rejection problem lies in our ability to understand it. In addition, the cellular interactions that produce graft rejection may serve as a model to help us better understand cellular communication in general.

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