Back in 2008 we reported on a study that planned to compare screening of heart transplant rejections with biopsies vs. peripheral blood genetic profiling. Last week the results of that study were reported in the New England Journal of Medicine. The study, sponsored by XDx (the maker of the AlloMap test used), showed no increased risk of adverse events in the 6 months following transplant when a blood test was used for screening compared to biopsies.
From the NEJM abstract:
Results During a median follow-up period of 19 months, patients who were monitored with gene-expression profiling and those who underwent routine biopsies had similar 2-year cumulative rates of the composite primary outcome (14.5% and 15.3%, respectively; hazard ratio with gene-expression profiling, 1.04; 95% confidence interval, 0.67 to 1.68). The 2-year rates of death from any cause were also similar in the two groups (6.3% and 5.5%, respectively; P=0.82). Patients who were monitored with the use of gene-expression profiling underwent fewer biopsies per person-year of follow-up than did patients who were monitored with the use of endomyocardial biopsies (0.5 vs. 3.0, P<0.001). Conclusions Among selected patients who had received a cardiac transplant more than 6 months previously and who were at a low risk for rejection, a strategy of monitoring for rejection that involved gene-expression profiling, as compared with routine biopsies, was not associated with an increased risk of serious adverse outcomes and resulted in the performance of significantly fewer biopsies.