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March 23, 2017

Penn study finds potential earlier warning of organ transplant rejection through blood test

Findings could widen the window for medical intervention

A recent study by researchers at the University of Pennsylvania is showing promise in providing earlier detection of possible organ transplant rejection through the use of a simple blood test.

In the study, which was published on Monday in the Journal of Clinical Investigation and funded by the National Institutes of Health, Penn researchers analyzed blood plasma samples belonging to several transplant recipients and, in doing so, detected changes in donor exosomes, which are cell-derived vesicles found in the blood and urine.

The changes appear to signal an early warning for transplant rejection. 

While the study is in the preliminary exploration stages, there's hope that further research and validation will open possibilities for relying on blood tests to determine potential organ transplant rejection, as opposed to more invasive and painful methods.

The method also has the potential to give medical professionals more time to intervene prior to the organ being rejected, while at the same time possibly preventing unnecessary or excessive medical interference in organ transplant patients who do not appear to be at heightened risk of rejection.

As noted by Penn Medicine, “In principle, when doctors are able to detect rejection episodes earlier and intervene more effectively, transplant recipients also will be able to use lower maintenance doses of immunosuppressive drugs when rejection is not occurring. That will help them avoid the long-term side effects of these drugs which include cancers, high blood pressure, opportunistic infections, and kidney damage.”

Read more at Penn Medicine.

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