The Liver Bank financially supported by the University of Kansas Medical Center, and the University of Kansas Hospital is an outgrowth of the hospital’s active liver transplant practice. The Liver Bank serves as a multi-year repository for tissue specimens from excess surgical material in liver transplants, resections, and biopsies. The samples are categorized within a separate database housing extensive clinical and pathological data that is also maintained.
Richard Gilroy, MD., the liver transplant program’s Medical Director, wants to use the liver database study the “chronic rejection cohort”. Researchers are trying to understand how immunosuppressive drugs might be modified to address organ rejection in patients unable for whatever reason to tolerate a transplant. Dr. Gilroy would also like to study the data in the liver bank as to why some patients have perfectly normal liver enzymes but yet have remarkably abnormal biopsies.
“We’ve tended to be somewhat siloed in our research, but the liver bank is providing great opportunities for translational research,” Gilroy says. “The ability to work together is an important measure of the marriage between clinicians and basic scientists.”
Steven Weinman, MD, PhD, Director of the University of Kansas Liver Center founded in 2007, added, “The main mission for the liver bank is get tissue samples out to investigators so that important questions can be answered.
Another move to improve the retrieval and study of data available on liver tissues occurred in February 2013 when Jody Olson M.D applied for the liver bank to become a full-fledged member of the “Acute Liver Failure Study Group” (ALFSG). This multicenter collaboration is based at University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas and is funded by NIH’s National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK).
Today according to Olson, “The patients we now see will be part of a national registry that will house their clinical data and biological samples in a central repository and provide information on clinical trials and proposed new studies. It’s the first time, we’ve had a major NIH-funded network like this at the University of Kansas to use for liver research.”
In another effort to preserve and use essential data to improve the transplantation process, the new Center for Transplantation at the University of Kansas is beginning to take shape. The Center encompasses the University of Kansas Hospital’s liver, kidney, and pancreas transplant programs. Today, researchers are now able to get everyone within different disciplines on the same page with a common mission of care and give patients facing organ failure a new lease on life.
The Center for Transplantation, is able to provide the protocols for patient work-ups and post-transplant immunosuppression and care. As Timothy Schmitt, MD Director of Transplant Surgery at the new Center, reports, “Outcomes data is our measuring stick. If the data isn’t good, then we lose patients, transplant contracts, and face federal trouble. So we watch over compliance issues and make sure everyone’s informed about what is going on. The data is used to help make quality assessments but the information also provides accountability.”
Source: Summer Issue of the Kansas Medicine and Science. The article “Building a World Class Liver Bank” was published by the University of Kansas Medical College. To view the article, go to www.kumc.edu/Documents/public%20affairs/KUMSSummer/2013.pdf.