Natera, UCSF collaborate on kidney transplant rejection Dx

Noninvasive genetic testing specialist Natera ($NTRA) is teaming up with the University of California, San Francisco, to study the DNA markers of kidney transplant rejection, with eyes on developing a noninvasive diagnostic for renal transplant care.

Physicians currently use invasive biopsies and monitor creatinine levels after transplant, the results of which are often inconclusive or point to a rejection diagnosis after organ damage has already occurred. A new noninvasive diagnostic test could improve detection and treatment outcomes.

The collaborators will examine hundreds of plasma samples collected from UCSF kidney transplant patients with and without organ injury, they said in a statement. Natera will use its proprietary massively multiplexed PCR platform and statistical algorithms to analyze the level of donor-derived cell-free DNA (dd-cfDNA) in these samples.

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Previous studies have shown dd-cfDNA can potentially serve as a universal marker for acute rejection of solid organs, according to the statement. The partners aim to discover if routine measurement of dd-cfDNA can help predict organ injury and help physicians head it off.

A 2013 Fierce 15 honoree, Natera posted a $180 million IPO a year ago, supporting the development of its noninvasive prenatal test and extending its presence in the liquid biopsy market.

Meanwhile, Milwaukee, WI-based Tai Diagnostics picked up an $8.2 million Series A in October to fund its blood-based test to monitor the health of organ transplant recipients, and diagnostics giant Qiagen ($QGEN) won FDA approval in 2014 for a full PMA to measure the viral load of cytomegalovirus, a common virus that can be fatal to those with weakened immune systems, in transplant patients.

- here's the statement

Special Report: FierceMedicalDevices' 2013 Fierce 15 - Natera

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