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Non-invasive diagnosis of acute rejection in solid organ transplantation

acute rejectionBiomarcatoridd-cfDNAddPCRdiagnosticHLAtransplanted patients


Transplanted patients need to be monitored by a series of clinical, instrumental and laboratory tests, repeated on a regular basis to avoid episodes of acute rejection, experienced by about 30% of patients. The proposed technology consists of a method based on droplet digital PCR (ddPCR) to quantify a specific biomarker in the blood of patient allowing an accurate, early and rapid monitoring.

Technical features

The method of choice for evaluating acute rejection is tissue biopsy of the transplanted organ. This approach, however, is very invasive and consequently cause discomfort and stress for the patient. Also, it is characterized by an important degree of inter-operator variability for the evaluation of the degree of rejection. This can result in inappropriate treatment with immunosuppressive drugs that increase the risk of infections, a further potentially life-threatening complication in recipients. Our researchers developed a method based on droplet digital PCR (ddPCR) to quantify dd-cfDNA a biomarker consisting in DNA fragments released by the cells of the transplanted organ into the recipient’s blood. One of the advantages of this biomarker is that the dd-cfDNA is obtained through a simple venous blood sample. The ddPCR is a method that allows to obtain quantitative and accurate results with great sensitivity and specificity. Compared to next generation sequencing technology (NGS), the ddPCR is cheaper and reduces analysis times.

Possible Applications

  • Non-invasive monitoring of acute rejection after solid organ transplantation, mainly in a hospital setting, but also applicable in research.


  • Non-invasive monitoring (based on peripheral blood sample);
  • There is no need to conduct further investigations of the recipient and donor genomes as it uses HLA typing routinely performed prior to transplantation;
  • The use of specific probes designed by our researchers allows to potentially include any donor-recipient pair;
  • Reduced analysis times and lower costs compared to NGS technology.