Nav: Home

New blood test can detect rejection by antibodies after kidney transplant

August 01, 2019

A group of European scientists led by KU Leuven has found a biomarker that can identify patients with symptoms of kidney rejection symptoms after a transplant as a result of antibodies. The identification can be done through a simple blood test and at an early stage. It is the first known biomarker for rejection by antibodies. The researchers hope that the test can be further developed quickly for use in the hospital.

After a kidney transplant, patients have to take medication to suppress their immune system. However, kidney rejections occur frequently. To determine if the body is rejecting the organ, doctors usually take a biopsy: using a needle, they remove a small piece of tissue from the transplanted kidney and examine it under a microscope. This procedure is often uncomfortable. Moreover, rejection symptoms are often discovered too late, so that correct treatment is not always possible anymore.

At the University Hospitals Leuven in Belgium, kidney transplant patients systematically undergo a kidney biopsy three months, one year, and two years after the transplant. However, the biopsy only can detect rejection symptoms that are present at that moment, while rejection can occur at any time. Moreover, about ten to twenty percent of rejections remain undetected with current methods, which leads to graft failure, reinitiation of dialysis and the need for a repeat transplant.

Milestone in kidney transplant research

For several years, kidney transplantation research has focused on finding biomarkers that can detect symptoms of organ rejection in the blood. Such a biomarker has now been discovered in a European study* in four university hospitals (Leuven, Paris, Hannover and Limoges) that was spearheaded by nephrologists from KU Leuven.

It is the first time that researchers have found a biomarker for kidney transplant rejection by antibodies. For T cell-mediated rejection, a common type of rejection, some biomarkers in the blood have recently been found, which are now being further developed for clinical use. Rejection by T cells is treatable, but there are fewer treatment options for rejection with antibodies.

"Rejection by HLA antibodies often has serious consequences," said professor Maarten Naesens, nephrologist at the University Hospitals Leuven and principal investigator of the study. "Traditional tests for assessing the function of transplanted kidneys can often only identify rejection when it is already chronic and irreversible. Thanks to our biomarker, we can detect rejection much earlier and with a simple blood test. Because the test is less invasive, we will be able to test more often than with the current biopsies."

Clinical value

In the first phase, the European researchers* performed a genome-wide study to find out differences in RNA molecules among 117 patients with and without kidney rejection symptoms after a transplant. In the second phase, the different molecules of an independent group of 183 patients were processed into a mathematical model. The final biomarker consists of eight RNA molecules that are measured with an RT-PCR technique. In the third phase, the biomarker was validated in 387 patients in four European academic hospitals.

"In addition to developing the biomarker, that third phase was very important," said Dr Elisabet Van Loon from the Nephrology and Kidney Transplantation research group at KU Leuven. "Researchers are often satisfied with a new discovery, even though they are unable to test it in independent clinical studies. Thanks to international cooperation, we could validate our biomarker in a large group of patients. That gives us a lot of confidence in the clinical value of the new biomarker. "

The researchers now want to consult with medical diagnostic companies to further develop and standardise the test. "In principle, our antibody rejection test has been sufficiently validated for commercialisation," said Professor Naesens. "This is the next and necessary step to be able to offer the test to patients. With the test, patients who have no rejection of antibodies will no longer have to undergo a biopsy. The biomarker will also help to detect rejection sooner and will support the search for better medicines against rejection by antibodies."
-end-


KU Leuven

Related Science Articles:

75 science societies urge the education department to base Title IX sexual harassment regulations on evidence and science
The American Educational Research Association (AERA) and the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) today led 75 scientific societies in submitting comments on the US Department of Education's proposed changes to Title IX regulations.
Science/Science Careers' survey ranks top biotech, biopharma, and pharma employers
The Science and Science Careers' 2018 annual Top Employers Survey polled employees in the biotechnology, biopharmaceutical, pharmaceutical, and related industries to determine the 20 best employers in these industries as well as their driving characteristics.
Science in the palm of your hand: How citizen science transforms passive learners
Citizen science projects can engage even children who previously were not interested in science.
Applied science may yield more translational research publications than basic science
While translational research can happen at any stage of the research process, a recent investigation of behavioral and social science research awards granted by the NIH between 2008 and 2014 revealed that applied science yielded a higher volume of translational research publications than basic science, according to a study published May 9, 2018 in the open-access journal PLOS ONE by Xueying Han from the Science and Technology Policy Institute, USA, and colleagues.
Prominent academics, including Salk's Thomas Albright, call for more science in forensic science
Six scientists who recently served on the National Commission on Forensic Science are calling on the scientific community at large to advocate for increased research and financial support of forensic science as well as the introduction of empirical testing requirements to ensure the validity of outcomes.
World Science Forum 2017 Jordan issues Science for Peace Declaration
On behalf of the coordinating organizations responsible for delivering the World Science Forum Jordan, the concluding Science for Peace Declaration issued at the Dead Sea represents a global call for action to science and society to build a future that promises greater equality, security and opportunity for all, and in which science plays an increasingly prominent role as an enabler of fair and sustainable development.
PETA science group promotes animal-free science at society of toxicology conference
The PETA International Science Consortium Ltd. is presenting two posters on animal-free methods for testing inhalation toxicity at the 56th annual Society of Toxicology (SOT) meeting March 12 to 16, 2017, in Baltimore, Maryland.
Citizen Science in the Digital Age: Rhetoric, Science and Public Engagement
James Wynn's timely investigation highlights scientific studies grounded in publicly gathered data and probes the rhetoric these studies employ.
Science/Science Careers' survey ranks top biotech, pharma, and biopharma employers
The Science and Science Careers' 2016 annual Top Employers Survey polled employees in the biotechnology, biopharmaceutical, pharmaceutical, and related industries to determine the 20 best employers in these industries as well as their driving characteristics.
Three natural science professors win TJ Park Science Fellowship
Professor Jung-Min Kee (Department of Chemistry, UNIST), Professor Kyudong Choi (Department of Mathematical Sciences, UNIST), and Professor Kwanpyo Kim (Department of Physics, UNIST) are the recipients of the Cheong-Am (TJ Park) Science Fellowship of the year 2016.
More Science News and Science Current Events

Trending Science News

Current Coronavirus (COVID-19) News

Top Science Podcasts

We have hand picked the top science podcasts of 2020.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Debbie Millman: Designing Our Lives
From prehistoric cave art to today's social media feeds, to design is to be human. This hour, designer Debbie Millman guides us through a world made and remade–and helps us design our own paths.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#574 State of the Heart
This week we focus on heart disease, heart failure, what blood pressure is and why it's bad when it's high. Host Rachelle Saunders talks with physician, clinical researcher, and writer Haider Warraich about his book "State of the Heart: Exploring the History, Science, and Future of Cardiac Disease" and the ails of our hearts.
Now Playing: Radiolab

Insomnia Line
Coronasomnia is a not-so-surprising side-effect of the global pandemic. More and more of us are having trouble falling asleep. We wanted to find a way to get inside that nighttime world, to see why people are awake and what they are thinking about. So what'd Radiolab decide to do?  Open up the phone lines and talk to you. We created an insomnia hotline and on this week's experimental episode, we stayed up all night, taking hundreds of calls, spilling secrets, and at long last, watching the sunrise peek through.   This episode was produced by Lulu Miller with Rachael Cusick, Tracie Hunte, Tobin Low, Sarah Qari, Molly Webster, Pat Walters, Shima Oliaee, and Jonny Moens. Want more Radiolab in your life? Sign up for our newsletter! We share our latest favorites: articles, tv shows, funny Youtube videos, chocolate chip cookie recipes, and more. Support Radiolab by becoming a member today at Radiolab.org/donate.