A new blood test could soon replace liver biopsy in rapid identification of acute liver transplant rejection. It would also speed anti-rejection treatment. If successful, the blood test would be the first of its kind. Researchers presented findings at the 68th AACC Annual Scientific Meeting.
Ekkehard Schütz, MD, PhD, and colleagues from Chronix Biomedical in Gottingen, Germany monitored plasma graft-derived cell-free DNA (cell-free DNA from a transplanted organ) in 106 adult liver transplant recipients followed for at least one year following a liver transplant.
Among 20 patients with samples taken during biopsy-proven acute rejection, graft-derived cell-free DNA levels were approximately ten times higher than those detected in stable patients. Stable patients without graft injury and negative for hepatitis C had graft-derived cell-free DNA levels that decreased within the first week to a baseline level of less than 10% of total cell-free DNA levels. The test identified more than 90% of transplant patients with acute rejection.
Schütz called it a “universal test,” suitable for all types of organ transplants that will help us avoid “really high-grade rejections further down the line.”
Laura Newman is a New York-based medical writer that writes frequently about medical technological advances and health policy. She writes for the medical trade press, national health entities, and health care insurers.