For the first time in the United States, a research team will test a personalized cell therapy to treat a common and serious complication facing kidney transplant patients.

The UW Program for Advanced Cell Therapy (PACT) will study a cutting-edge therapy to treat a viral infection faced by around 30 to 40 percent of kidney and/or pancreas transplant recipients.

The study will deploy virus-specific white blood cells to treat severe cytomegalovirus (CMV) infection after kidney transplantation.

The Federal Drug Administration-approved trial will begin enrolling 20 adult kidney-transplant recipients, according to Arjang Djamali, MD, professor of medicine and surgery at the UW School of Medicine and Public Health, and UW Health nephrology division chief.

Kidney transplant is the most common type of transplant in the United States, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, with about 22,000 (including combined kidney and pancreas procedures) in 2018.

UW Health is the largest kidney and pancreas transplant program in the state, performing a majority of Wisconsin's kidney and kidney-pancreas combined transplants with 315 in 2018.

"The profile of our program will allow ample trial participants," Djamali said. "We look forward to discovering if this innovative treatment strategy is safe and effective for this unmet need."