Landmark Research Helps Predict Kidney Transplant Organ Failure Risk

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Australian and American researchers have identified several genes that hold the key to determining the future outcome of a kidney transplant, in what has been described as a landmark breakthrough in medical research. The lead author of the study published in The Lancet medical journal, Professor Philip O’Connell, said the discovery meant people could get treatment before irreversible damage had occurred.

“If we get people a transplant, and get that transplant to live longer, then we have less people on dialysis, less people suffering from vascular disease … and people with a better quality of life,” he said.

The researchers used genomic sequencing to test 40,000 genes from biopsies of transplanted kidneys. They compared the gene regulation between people who had normal kidney function after a transplant, and people who showed signs of organ failure. Using a series of complex mathematical equations, they then managed to identify 13 genes that were predictive of poor kidney function in the future.

“What these genes mean is that if these are up-regulated in your kidney transplant, you’re at a greater risk of having worsening fibrosis, which will lead to worse kidney function and ultimately to an increased risk of losing your kidney transplant,” Professor O’Connell said. “By having devised this test we can predict at three months, which is very early, after the kidney transplant that you’re at risk of this. So what we want to do is get that information earlier and make an intervention that’ll make life for them better.”

Professor O’Connell said by doing a diagnostic test, treatments could be tailored for patients.

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