For many Americans living with a heart transplant, invasive heart-muscle biopsies that check for organ rejection are a fact of life. //
Now, a simple blood test that analyzes a patient’s genes has been evaluated by leading transplant centers and shows that it can accurately detect the absence of heart transplant rejection, according to new data reported in an invited editorial authored by a consensus team of international heart transplant experts, including a physician-scientist at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital and Columbia University Medical Center, and available today in the online edition of the Journal of Heart and Lung Transplantation (JHLT).
In 2006, the CARGO (Cardiac Allograft Rejection Gene Expression Observational Study) study reported the utility of a gene expression profiling (GEP) test, called AlloMap? molecular expression test, which led to the test’s commercial availability in January 2005. Currently 40 transplant centers in the U.S. offer the test.
'GEP testing is not only less invasive and less risky than biopsy, it also monitors the absence of organ rejection and raises suspicion of damage before any damage to the heart happens. Biopsy records damage that has already occurred,' says Dr. Mario Deng, the article’s senior author. He is director of cardiac transplantation research and associate professor of clinical medicine at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, and cardiologist at NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia.
The editorial’s first author is Dr. Randall C. Starling, vice chairman of cardiovascular medicine and section head of heart failure and cardiac transplant medicine at Cleveland Clinic.
Approximately 30 percent of all heart transplant patients reject their new heart at least once in the first year after transplantation. When testing reveals organ rejection, a patient’s immunosuppressive regimen is adjusted.
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