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A new trial, SENTINEL, is set to investigate if skin patches can be used as an early warning system to identify if lung transplants are being rejected, so treatment can begin sooner, reducing the chance of longer lasting organ damage.

Illustration of inserting the skin patch on an arm.

Rejection may show as a rash on the donated skin patch, often before the body has started to reject the lungs. If such a rash is seen, a tiny biopsy from the skin will be taken, as a step to confirm the presence of rejection.

If the trial is a success and the approach can be rolled out to all lung transplant recipients, the research team believe it could cut rejection by up to 50%.

The SENTINEL trial started this month and will recruit 152 patients over three years. The £2million trial is run by the Surgical Intervention Trials Unit (SITU) at the Nuffield Department of Surgical Sciences, University of Oxford in collaboration with NHS Blood and Transplant and the five UK lung transplant centres and funded by a Medical Research Council (MRC) and National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR) partnership. 

Patients will receive a 10 x 3cm skin patch from the forearm of the organ donor, which will be transplanted onto the under-surface of the patient’s forearm at the same time as the lung transplant. The skin transplant will be carried out by an independent plastic surgeon. 


Read the full story on the  Nuffield Department of Surgical Sciences website.