Penn Transplant Institute

Liver Transplant Research and Clinical Trials

Penn's active research and clinical trials provide additional resources for liver transplant patients. See below for liver clinical trials conducted at Penn.

Effects of Rapamycin on Gene Expression and Biomarkers Associated with Aging

Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania would like to learn about the effect of Sirolimus (or Rapamune) medication on aging. Recent studies have shown that Rapamycin extends lifespan and prevents aging-related diseases in worms, flies, and mice. Since certain liver transplant patients are on Sirolimus medication while other transplant patients are on Tacrolimus (or Prograf) medication we would like to investigate the differences between these patients. A group of healthy volunteers will serve as a control for this study. Researchers will be analyzing blood samples for differences in gene expression.

Research Coordinator: Mary Shaw, RN, BBA
Tel: 215-614-0528
Email: Mary.Shaw@uphs.upenn.edu

Penn Transplant Biobank and Registry (BioTip)

The purpose of the study is to see if substances in the donor organ can predict how well the organ will function after transplant. Tests on blood, urine and biopsy tissue samples will be used in this study to see if such a link exists. Patients who are expected to receive other organs (kidney, lung and heart) will also be part of this study. The research team will be looking at any injuries in the transplanted organs to see if there are similarities among the different organ groups. In this way, they hope to develop a better understanding of organ injury after transplant. Study participation lasts for the lifetime of the participant.

Research Coordinator: Mary Shaw, RN, BBA
Tel: 215-614-0528
Email: Mary.Shaw@uphs.upenn.edu

Predictors of Renal Dysfunction Following Liver Transplantation

10 to 20 percent of liver transplant recipients develop kidney problems after their liver transplant. This is a research study for individuals who are going to receive either a liver transplant or a simultaneous liver and kidney transplant. The purpose of this study is to help physicians understand which liver transplant recipients are likely to develop kidney problems after transplant. Tests of urine, blood, and tissue biopsy from the kidney will be used to determine who is at risk for kidney dysfunction after the liver transplant.

Research Coordinator: Mary Shaw, RN, BBA
Tel: 215-614-0528
Email: Mary.Shaw@uphs.upenn.edu

Donation After Cardiac Death Tissue Plasminogen Activator (TPA) Protocol

Some of the challenges faced when using a donor liver from a DCD donor include managing complications involving the bile ducts. These complications may be caused by changes in blood flow. Hence, ways to improve the blood flow to the donor organ are needed. In this study, we will compare survival of patients and donated livers as well as biliary complications in TPA treated donated livers to those that are not TPA treated. The purpose of the study is to try to limit possible complications of the bile ducts sometimes caused by decreased blood flow to the liver in donation after cardiac death (DCD) donor livers.

Research Coordinator: Mary Shaw, RN, BBA
Tel: 215-614-0528
Email: Mary.Shaw@uphs.upenn.edu

A Phase II Randomized Multicenter Placebo-Controlled Blinded Study of Sorafenib Adjuvant Therapy in High Risk Orthotopic Liver Transplant (OLT) Recipients with Hepatocellular Carcinoma (HCC)

Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) (liver cancer) is a significant health problem, accounting for more than 1,000,000 new cases every year world-wide and is the third leading cause of cancer deaths in the world. The incidence of liver cancer is also increasing in the United States and causes about 13,000 deaths yearly. Outcomes for patients with HCC have been historically poor, regardless of treatment. Liver transplantation is a treatment option for liver cancer patients, but despite transplantation, the HCC (liver cancer) can recur in the new transplanted liver. Nexavar® (sorafenib) is approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for treatment of patients with advanced kidney cancer and advanced unresectable (untreatable with surgery) liver cancer (HCC). It is not known whether sorafenib, the study medication, is effective in preventing cancer recurrence in high risk patients following liver transplantation. The purpose of this study is to determine if sorafenib is a safe and effective treatment option for preventing liver cancer in high risk patients following liver transplantation.

Research Coordinator: Mary Shaw, RN, BBA
Tel: 215-614-0528
Email: Mary.Shaw@uphs.upenn.edu

A 36 Month, Multi-Center, Open-Label, Randomized, Comparator Study To Evaluate The Efficacy and Safety of Everolimus Immunosuppression Treatment in Liver Transplantation for Hepatocellular Carcinoma Exceeding Milan Criteria
  • Investigator: Maarouf Hoteit, MD

Liver transplantation is an effective therapy approach in patients with hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) and cirrhosis. Using the Milan tumor inclusion criteria, both patient and graft survival of patients with HCC are similar to those of patients without HCC. The same has been observed with more expanded tumor inclusion criteria. However, while imaging has improved, some of the patients have more tumor burden in the liver transplant than seen on imaging. Tumor size and number has correlated with worse outcome. The same applies to tumor differentiation and vascular invasion; both pathological parameters cannot be reliably predicted based on pre-transplant testing. While post-transplant tumor recurrence has decreased over the years, it is still of concern, as it typically leads to patient demise. Therefore, all attempts should be made to decrease the likelihood of tumor recurrence. This study is to evaluate use of everolimus and tacrolimus in a prospective manner to see if the use of these two medications results in lower tumor recurrence and better patient survival than tacrolimus and mycophenolic acid/mycophenolate mofetil after liver transplantation for HCC.

Research Coordinator: Mary Shaw, RN, BBA
Tel: 215-614-0528
Email: Mary.Shaw@uphs.upenn.edu

For more information about clinical trials at the Penn Transplant Institute, see Research & Clinical Trials.