Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Faster, less-intrusive way found to identify transplant recipients' organ rejection

September 24, 2010
Stanford University Medical Center
A simple, inexpensive blood test could soon help doctors halt organ rejection before it impairs transplanted hearts and kidneys.

A simple, inexpensive blood test could soon help doctors halt organ rejection before it impairs transplanted hearts and kidneys.

Related Articles

"In the past, we couldn't spot rejection episodes until they harmed the organ," said Atul Butte, MD, PhD, who is co-senior author of the new research and an associate professor of medical informatics and of pediatrics at the Stanford University School of Medicine, in addition to director of the Center for Pediatric Bioinformatics at Lucile Packard Children's Hospital. "Our goal is to develop blood tests that will keep transplanted organs functioning so that patients can avoid a second transplant."

Butte and his collaborators have made a big step toward that goal. The Stanford team found three easily measured proteins that rise in the blood during acute rejection, in which a patient's immune system attacks his or her transplanted organ. The research, which will be published online Sept. 23 in PLoS-Computational Biology, is the first-ever report of an immune-rejection signal that is shared by two kinds of transplanted organs. The protein signals are now being validated in liver- and lung-transplant recipients as well.

The new blood test circumvents the invasive, expensive, slow system now used to keep tabs on transplants. Currently, all organ recipients receive functional monitoring of their new body parts. Heart transplant patients get regular echocardiograms, for instance. If organ function drops, doctors cut a tiny sample from the transplanted tissue to check for rejection, and then adjust patients' immune-suppressing drugs accordingly. About 25 percent of kidney recipients and 40 percent of heart recipients experience an episode of acute rejection in the first year after transplant.

The new blood test will let doctors skip directly to drug dosing before a transplant is damaged. As well as treating rejection early, doctors could use the test to reduce doses of immune-suppressing drugs for patients whose bodies are handling their transplanted organs well, thus reducing unnecessary drug side effects. Butte predicts the test will be commercially available in three to five years.

The new technique makes use of an existing method to detect proteins in blood, called enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay, or ELISA, that is already used to diagnose diseases such as strep throat. The Stanford team found new proteins for diagnostic ELISA kits to target.

To identify the new protein markers, the researchers started from publicly available data documenting changes during transplant rejection in levels of messenger RNA, the molecule that tells cells to make new proteins from the instructions in the genetic code. These changes gave the team clues about which proteins might appear in the blood during rejection.

From 45 protein candidates identified via mRNA data, the team zeroed in on 10 for which ELISA-based laboratory test kits were already available. Using blood samples from 39 kidney and 63 heart transplant recipients, the kits found three proteins that reliably increased in the blood during acute rejection.

Because ELISA-based diagnostics are already used in clinical settings, it won't be hard to modify the technology for transplant patients, Butte said. Stanford University has filed patent applications for the new test.

The researchers also independently validated their method of using public RNA data to identify marker proteins by confirming that the computational method detected known biomarkers for several other diseases. The new discovery method is exciting, Butte said, because it could be applied to many diseases that lack good diagnostic tools.

"For a disease like pancreatic cancer, where we find it late and patients die quickly, we have a huge medical need for identifying good diagnostic markers," he said. "Why don't we use public data to help us with this process?"

Butte's collaborators at Stanford are co-senior author Minnie Sarwal, MD, PhD, professor of pediatrics at the School of Medicine and a nephrologist at Packard Children's Hospital; software developer Rong Chen, PhD; research associate Tara Sigdel, PhD; biostatistician Li Li, MS; Neeraja Kambham, MD, associate professor of pathology; graduate students Joel Dudley, Alexander Morgan and Bryan Klassen; research assistants Amery Chen and Szu-chuan Hsieh; Tuyen Caohuu, clinical coordinator; Hannah Valantine, MD, professor of cardiovascular medicine; and Kiran Khush, MD, instructor in cardiovascular medicine.

Funding for the research was provided by the Lucile Packard Foundation for Children's Health, the National Library of Medicine, the National Institute of General Medical Sciences, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America Foundation, Beta Sigma Phi, the Child Health Research Program, the Children's Health Initiative at Packard Children's Hospital and the Stanford Bio-X program.

Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Stanford University Medical Center. The original article was written by Erin Digitale. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.

Journal Reference:

  1. Scott T. Weiss, Rong Chen, Tara K. Sigdel, Li Li, Neeraja Kambham, Joel T. Dudley, Szu-chuan Hsieh, R. Bryan Klassen, Amery Chen, Tuyen Caohuu, Alexander A. Morgan, Hannah A. Valantine, Kiran K. Khush, Minnie M. Sarwal, Atul J. Butte. Differentially Expressed RNA from Public Microarray Data Identifies Serum Protein Biomarkers for Cross-Organ Transplant Rejection and Other Conditions. PLoS Computational Biology, 2010; 6 (9): e1000940 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pcbi.1000940

Cite This Page:

Stanford University Medical Center. "Faster, less-intrusive way found to identify transplant recipients' organ rejection." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 24 September 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/09/100923184447.htm>.
Stanford University Medical Center. (2010, September 24). Faster, less-intrusive way found to identify transplant recipients' organ rejection. ScienceDaily. Retrieved January 28, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/09/100923184447.htm
Stanford University Medical Center. "Faster, less-intrusive way found to identify transplant recipients' organ rejection." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/09/100923184447.htm (accessed January 28, 2015).

Share This

More From ScienceDaily

More Health & Medicine News

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Poultry Culled in Taiwan to Thwart Bird Flu

Poultry Culled in Taiwan to Thwart Bird Flu

Reuters - News Video Online (Jan. 28, 2015) Taiwan culls over a million poultry in efforts to halt various strains of avian flu. Julie Noce reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Shark Bite Victim Making Amazing Recovery

Shark Bite Victim Making Amazing Recovery

AP (Jan. 27, 2015) A Texas woman who lost more than five pounds of flesh to a shark in the Bahamas earlier this month could be released from a Florida hospital soon. Experts believe she was bitten by a bull shark while snorkeling. (Jan. 27) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Shoveling Snow: How to Prevent Back Injuries

Shoveling Snow: How to Prevent Back Injuries

Washington Post (Jan. 26, 2015) What&apos;s the proper technique for shoveling snow? A physical therapist offers specific tips for protecting your back while you dig out this winter. Video provided by Washington Post
Powered by NewsLook.com
Ebola Mistakes Should Serve a Lesson Says WHO

Ebola Mistakes Should Serve a Lesson Says WHO

AFP (Jan. 25, 2015) The World Health Organization&apos;s chief on Sunday admitted the UN agency had been caught napping on Ebola, saying it should serve a lesson to avoid similar mistakes in future. Duration: 00:55 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.


Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News


Free Subscriptions

Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile

Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?

Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins