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Australian scientists develop test to help treat liver transplant recipients

MELBOURNE, July 14 (Xinhua) -- Australian researchers have developed a blood test that will determine if liver transplant patients are at risk of infection or rejection, it was announced on Friday.

The team from Melbourne's Austin Hospital's Liver Transplant Unit (LTU) developed the blood test that they are optimistic can measure "net immunity."

Every organ donor recipient requires lifelong immunosuppression to ensure the new organ is accepted into the body but 70 percent of patients receive too much or too little, resulting in rejection or graft dysfunction.

Adam Testro, a consultant gastroenterologist and hepatoligist from the Austin, said the new QuantiFERON Monitor test successfully determined the level of immunosuppression required for 75 patients a week after they had received a new liver.

It is the first system in the world whereby organ recipients can be administered tailored dosages.

"Most people are out of hospital a month after liver transplant. If we can pick a patient in week one who is over or under-suppressed, we can change their treatment early," Testro told Australian media on Friday.

"The test we have now is a one-sized shoe. Occasionally it's a perfect fit, but usually it's not."

Testro said he believed that the test could be applied to other transplants and conditions which require immunosuppression such as rheumatoid arthritis.

"I think the true benefit will come years down the track to the patient and health economy," he said.

"If patients are on less drugs upfront, they're less likely to get those long-term medication side-effects, such as renal dysfunction, diabetes, high blood pressure and skin cancers."


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