News / Health

Donor DNA May Identify Early Heart Transplant Rejection

Study could also help improve success of other transplants

Examining donor DNA could give doctors a non-invasive, early warning of organ rejection, which could be controlled with anti-rejection medications.
Examining donor DNA could give doctors a non-invasive, early warning of organ rejection, which could be controlled with anti-rejection medications.

Multimedia

Audio
Art Chimes

Scientists are reporting a new way to identify when a heart transplant recipient is starting to reject the new organ. The new technique could help doctors ensure the success of more transplants.

The human immune system is programmed to reject foreign bodies. It's how we fight off infections. That's one of the biggest obstacles in organ transplant: the body sees the new organ as foreign.

So transplant recipients take powerful immunosupressant drugs, but rejection still happens. If discovered early enough, doctors may be able to adjust the patient's medications. If not, they may need another transplant...assuming an organ is available.

To monitor for rejection of heart transplants, doctors examine the new heart for signs of rejection every couple of months.

"The current gold standard to look for rejection is to actually physically biopsy the heart, which means the doctors go in and rip a piece of it out and look at it under a microscope," says Stanford University researcher Stephen Quake, who calls the procedure "rather medieval."

"The key insight for this work was to realize that a heart transplant is really a genome transplant. When someone else's heart gets put inside your body, all the cells in that organ have that person's genome, which is different than yours. And so, if you sequence DNA from the blood, you can tell which DNA is coming specifically from the heart as opposed to other organs by those small differences in the genome."

Scientists have long known that the blood contains bits of DNA, which were in cells that have since died. And if a transplanted heart is being rejected, it will have more dead cells, and shed more DNA.  

"When the organ is being rejected, your immune system is attacking it and the cells become very unhealthy and start to die, and when they die they spill their genome into the blood," Quake explains. "And so you'd expect an increase in the amount of heart DNA in the blood to be a direct consequence of damage to the heart. And that's, in fact, what we showed in this paper."

For this research, Quake studied heart transplant patients, but he says he believes the same method could be used for other kinds of organ transplants, too. That would give doctors a non-invasive, early warning of organ rejection, which can be controlled in many cases by adjusting the patient's anti-rejection medications.

The Stanford University researcher describes the DNA-based method of identifying organ rejection online in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

You May Like

Karzai's Legacy: Missed Opportunities?

Afghanistan's president leaves behind a much different nation than the one he inherited, yet his legacy from 13 years in power is getting mixed reviews More

Secret Service Chief Under Fire for White House Security Breach

Julia Pierson faces tough questions from lawmakers after recent intrusion at White House, says: 'It is clear that our security plan was not executed properly' More

Frustrated, Liberian Students Want Ebola Fight Role

Thousands have volunteered to go to counties, rural villages to talk to people in their language about deadly virus More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihadi
X
Mahi Ramakrishnan
September 30, 2014 2:16 PM
Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihad

Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Could US Have Done More to Stop Rise of Islamic State?

President Obama says airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Syria will likely continue for some time because, in his words, "there is a cancer that has grown for too long." So what if President Obama had acted sooner in Syria to arm more-moderate opponents of both the Islamic State and the Syrian government? VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Iran's Rouhani Skeptical on Syria Strikes

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani expressed skepticism Friday that U.S.-led airstrikes in Iraq and Syria could crush Islamic State militants. From New York, VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports the president was also hopeful that questions about Iran’s nuclear program could be resolved soon.
Video

Video US House Speaker: Congress Should Debate Authorization Against IS

As wave after wave of U.S. airstrikes target Islamic State militants, the speaker of the Republican-controlled House of Representatives says he would be willing to call Congress back into session to debate a formal, broad authorization for the use of military force. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports from Washington, where legislators left town 10 days ago for a seven-week recess.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Video

Video Ebola Robs Liberians of Chance to Say Good-Bye to Loved Ones

In Liberia, where Ebola has killed more than 1,500 people, authorities have worked hard to convince people to allow specialized burial teams to take away dead bodies. But these safety measures, while necessary, make it hard for people to say good bye to their loved ones. VOA's Anne Look reports on the tragedy from Liberia.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid