October 10, 2017  Print

A research student from the Westmead Institute for Medical Research has been awarded a prestigious scholarship which will support research that aims to reduce the number of patients who experience kidney rejection after a transplant.

Ms Karen Keung received the 2017 RACP Jacquot Research Entry Scholarship for her research investigating opportunities to repurpose currently available medication into a deterrent or suppressant for kidney transplant rejection.

Ms Keung said the project analyses public data to identify key genes in patients who have suffered a rejection episode.

 “Post-transplant treatment for patients is the same across the globe, but unfortunately some patients experience a rejection episode.

“If we can determine what genes cause some people to experience a kidney transplant rejection episode, it would be possible to investigate the use of currently available medication to deter or suppress these symptoms,” she said.

Ms Keung hopes her research will lead to higher success rates for patients undergoing kidney transplants.

“By testing this drug repositioning strategy, we hope to reduce the number of patients who have a rejection episode after a kidney transplant.

“We could also skip a whole phase of clinical trials, as the side-effects from these medications have already been tested, which could significantly reduce the time-frame for possible treatments being available to patients in Australia,” Ms Keung said.

Karen was also awarded a 2017 Transplantation Society of Australia & New Zealand (TSANZ) President’s Award earlier this year for her abstract on this project.

Ms Karen Keung is a PhD student with the University of Sydney and is supervised by Professor Philip O’Connell.