Urine-based genetic test triumphs in trial

Researchers garnered upbeat results from a large clinical trial of a genetic test for organ rejection in patients with transplanted kidneys. The genetic test, which measures for levels of three messenger RNA molecules linked with immune attacks, demonstrated an ability to show signs of rejection weeks or months before symptoms of the condition appears, researchers reported in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Weill Cornell Medical College, which is the home of the lead research team, called the findings a "breakthrough" because no previous method to evaluate the risk of transplanted kidney rejection has existed. The three-genetic marker test could enable physicians to personalize treatment for patients, enabling them to adjust doses of immune suppressants based on the results.

Organ rejection is the most common complication in patients who receive transplanted kidneys, according to researchers. They get suppressants to stymie immune attacks on their transplants. Doctors use such therapies sparingly because too much increases the risk of infection and cancer. Yet they have lacked the urine-based molecular test to say whether they aren't using enough immune suppressants before it's too late.

"We have, for the first time, the opportunity to manage transplant patients in a more precise, individualized fashion," said Dr. Manikkam Suthanthiran, the Stanton Griffis Distinguished Professor of Medicine at Weill Cornell Medical College and chief of transplantation medicine, nephrology and hypertension at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center.

"This is good news since it moves us from the current one-size-fits-all treatment model to a much more personalized plan," he added in a statement.

- here's the release