Researchers at the Texas Heart Institute (THI) at St Luke’s Episcopal Hospital (St Luke’s) have tested a method to profile genetic markers in the blood as a way to monitor the risk of organ rejection in heart transplant patients. The method, known as AlloMap, would replace part of a progression of biopsy procedures for transplant patients with a simple, noninvasive blood test.

The AlloMap procedure was designed to analyze the expression of certain genetic markers in a transplant patient’s bloodstream and, with the help of other screening by physicians, identify patients with low risk of organ rejection at the time of the testing.

Dr Bogaev is one of the principal researchers who helped investigate the Gene Expression Profiling (GEP) test, along with Xdx, a molecular diagnostics company based in Brisbane, Calif.

Roberta Bogaev, director of the Heart Failure and Transplant Program at THI at St Luke’s, said: “The balance between preventing rejection with immunosuppressant drugs and avoiding adverse effects of the anti-rejection drugs is always a challenge. The AlloMap allows physicians to have an increased confidence level that patients are not rejecting without subjecting them to an invasive procedure.

“The findings are important because they demonstrate that AlloMap is as effective as biopsy for monitoring stable post-transplant patients. Physicians can monitor cardiac transplant patients and identify those with a low probability of organ rejection, while reducing the number of biopsies performed, thereby minimizing patient discomfort, cost and risk.”