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Northwestern University: Scientists Develop First Device for Monitoring Transplanted Organs


Scientists from Northwestern University have developed a monitoring device that can detect signs of rejection of kidney transplants. The device has been tested on mice and is able to detect signs of rejection three weeks before the current methods, which include blood and biopsy tests. The study is published in the journal Science.

This device has the potential to be a life-changer for patients since constant monitoring of the kidney transplant would be enabled. With dimensions of only 0.3 x 0.7 x 0.022 cm, the device will be positioned on the kidney under the layer that surrounds the organ.

The clinical lead of the study and Northwestern Medicine transplant nephrologist, Dr. Lorenzo Gallon, said that “I have noticed many of my patients feel constant anxiety – not knowing if their body is rejecting their transplanted organ or not,”, adding that “They may have waited years for a transplant and then finally received one from a loved one or deceased donor. Then, they spend the rest of their lives worrying about the health of that organ. Our new device could offer some protection, and continuous monitoring could provide reassurance and peace of mind.

The main purpose is to track temperature changes that are associated with inflammation, which is an early rejection sign. When a temperature change is detected, the device will send an alert to a smartphone or tablet. A temperature rise of 0.6 °C is a warning sign of organ rejection in the study and is detected via a highly sensitive thermometer.

As said by the first author, Surabhi Madhvapathy, a Northwestern graduate student, “Organ temperature fluctuates over a daily cycle under normal circumstances,”, adding that “We observed abnormal higher frequency temperature variations occurring over periods of eight and 12 hours in cases of transplant rejection.” Scientists believe that the device can also be adapted to monitor other organ transplants while enabling battery recharging would allow the device to last for life.

Article and Image Source: Northwestern University