KIT Develop Innovative Test To Monitor Rejection Of Kidney Transplants

KIT Develop Innovative Test To Monitor Rejection Of Kidney Transplants
Successful transplantation of human organs is one of the most dramatic achievements of modern medicine, much thanks to the development of immunosuppressants. Today it is estimated that over 70,000 kidney transplants are performed every year worldwide. However, despite immunosuppression medications, many patients will experience rejection. Monitoring and detecting these episodes of rejections is vital in order to make adjustments to medications, and extend the lifespan of the transplant.
Although some flu-like symptoms may occur, there are two widely used methods to detect injury. A blood test can monitor high creatinine levels, but by the time the test indicates a problem, it may be too late to save the organ. A faster and more direct approach is a biopsy, but this is costly, invasive and potentially risky.
The San Francisco-based startup KIT: Kidney Injury Test is developing a non-invasive, cost-effective, assay for kidney transplant rejection monitoring. The test is based on recent research that shows that DNA fragments from kidney cells damaged by rejection can be found in the urine of transplant patients. KIT’s assay is designed to bind with these cell-free DNA fragments, and the volume of bounded fragments indicate the degree of inflammation. The patient’s urine baseline is established right after the kidney transplant, and a routine monthly urine test can then monitor the health of the kidney and patient.
The innovative test will give physicians a clear window into how well they are controlling organ rejection. By looking at a patient’s specific trend over time, they can quickly intervene when significant changes are observed, extending the lifespan of the transplant. Most importantly, the inexpensive, easy-to-use test give a reliable method of measuring rejection, helping patients feel more at ease after a transplant.
The test was developed by a team of bioengineering students in the joint Berkeley-UCSF Masters of Translational Medicine program, Michael Nasr, Tyler Schmeckpeper and Josh Yang, together with UCSF’s Sarwal Lab and the Department of Surgery. The young innovators have identified a huge problem that many physicians face, and affect the lives of thousands of patients every year. This new test could not only improve the lifespan of the transplanted organs, but reducing a fear that these patients live with and improve their quality of life.

The exciting project has been recognized for its huge potential and was this year a semi-finalist at OneStart, the world’s largest life sciences and healthcare startup accelerator program. The program seek to dramatically improve human health and focus on cultivating early-stage entrepreneurship among young and disruptive healthcare innovators.