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An organ transplant offers a new lease on life but, as with any lease, there is some important fine print: Even a successful surgery usually comes with a long-term prescription for powerful drugs to suppress the body’s immune system and prevent it from attacking the new organ. As a result, transplant patients can become seriously sick, and even die, because of minor illnesses that a fully functioning immune system would ward off easily.
But a potential breakthrough is underway in Holliston, where a company called Harvard Apparatus Regenerative Technology is developing a bioreactor that can infuse tissue with a patient’s own stem cells before surgery, fooling the body into believing that a transplanted organ is actually its own.