This breakthrough in molecular testing is a non-invasive method that translates the complex signals of the immune system's multiple genes and pathways into an objective, actionable score. Along with proactive monitoring of the patient's immune system, physicians can now use this test to identify rejection and tissue damage before it occurs.
"In the past decade, this is truly one of the most important breakthroughs in the field of heart transplantation," says Mandeep Mehra, M.D., head of the Division of Cardiology at the University of Maryland School of Medicine. "Now that we have a test based on analysis of the human genome, we can begin to better understand why tissue and organ rejection occurs and use that knowledge to improve individual patient outcomes."
The molecular expression testing which monitors the immune system with non-invasive technology is currently being used in the management of heart transplant patients. In addition to detecting rejection, it identifies at-risk patients that biopsy misses, clarifies indeterminate biopsy results, and reduces the need for biopsies altogether.
For patients, molecular testing means less discomfort during the constant monitoring for rejection that is required for prolonged transplant success. Until recently, heart biopsy was the standard method of monitoring for transplant rejection.
During this invasive procedure, a bioptome is inserted into a vein in the patient's neck or groin and threaded through blood vessels into the heart. Small pieces of the heart muscle are clipped off and sent for laboratory evaluation for microscopic evidence of rejection.
Transplant patients generally endure multiple cardiac biopsies in their first year after a transplant. Periodic biopsies may continue for years. Unfortunately for many patients, biopsy procedures carry significant risk of adverse effects and they detect rejection only after damage to the heart has occurred.
MEDICA.de; Source: International Society for Heart and Lung Transplantation