Histocompatibility and immunogenetics

Histocompatibility and immunogenetics involves carrying out tests to support stem cell and organ transplantation.

The work involves typing patients and donors, assessing the closeness of the match and thus helping to select the most appropriate donor for a particular patient.

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Overview

The main role of a histocompatibility and immunogenetics (H&I) laboratory is to provide the services required to support haemopoietic stem cell and organ transplantation programmes. In addition, the H&I laboratory provides genetic testing for a number of human leukocyte antigens (HLA) and immune-related genes to support disease diagnosis and management, and plays a role in the investigation of transfusion-related reactions.

The work involved in the support of transplantation programmes includes HLA typing patients and donors, assessing the closeness of the match and thus helping to select the most appropriate donor for a particular patient. This is crucial to the success of the transplant, as mismatching can result in immune damage to the patient in haemopoietic stem transplantation or rejection in organ transplantation.

In the case of organ transplantation, the laboratory also performs HLA antibody screening and crossmatching, to ensure that there are no antibodies in the recipient which could reject the transplant. Finally, an H&I laboratory may keep registers of potential recipients of organ transplants and volunteer donors of haemopoietic stem cells (both bone marrow and cord blood).

Working life

In this area of healthcare science, you’ll:

The typical work activities that you might undertake in this field include:

Where would I work?

If you specialise in histocompatibility and immunogenetics, you could work for an NHS hospital trust (generally within the transplantation or immunology department) or other NHS organisations such as NHS Blood and Transplant. There are also opportunities with charitable organisations, such as the Anthony Nolan Trust.

Who would I work with?

You'll work as part of a team including other healthcare science staff, surgeons and nurses involved with organ and stem cell transplantation.

Want to learn more?

Other roles that may interest you

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