Vascularized Composite Allotransplantation (VCA) Laboratory

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Laboratory Director: 

Mario G. Solari, MD

Research Description: 

Conventional surgical techniques such as skin grafting or free tissue transfer (microvascular transfer of a combination of skin, muscle, and bone based on an artery and vein) are used to reconstruct tissue damaged by trauma or infection/sepsis. Certain structures such as the nose, lips, ears, and the hand are very challenging to reconstruct with established techniques. Vascularized Composite Allotransplantation (VCA) can be a superior method of restoring the aesthetics and function of these complex structures in select patients. However, major hindrances for widespread application of VCA are the need for chronic immunosuppression for graft survival (which places the recipient at risk for infection, neoplasia, and metabolic dysfunction) and nerve regeneration for functional success.

The VCA Laboratory engages in basic and translational research to advance the broader understanding of VCA immunobiology and to develop strategies that facilitate reduction of systemic immunosuppression, prevent acute and chronic rejection, promote allograft survival, and maximize functional outcome.

Our lab focuses on studies in small and large animal (mechanistic and pre-clinical) models of limb, face and abdominal wall allotransplantation related to basic immunologic mechanisms, drug and cell-based therapy, tolerance induction, nerve regeneration, and functional outcomes. The ultimate goal is translating new research findings into novel strategies that will improve the care and quality of life after clinical VCA such as hand and facial tissue allotransplantation. Our laboratory is located within the Thomas E. Starzl Transplantation Institute. Our research faculty has diverse backgrounds and expertise that facilitate the execution of high-level multidisciplinary science in collaboration with leading institutional, national and international centers of research, academia and industry partners with the support of funding from federal (NIH, DOD), private, industry or intramural entities.