HEARTBiT: A novel multi-marker blood test for management of acute cardiac allograft rejection

Patients receive heart transplants as a life-saving measure after heart failure; thus, ensuring the success of the transplant is of utmost importance. Rejection is a primary cause for heart transplant failure, and consequently, heart transplants are monitored at least 12 to 15 times within the first year of operation. However, current monitoring requires biopsies, a surgical procedure which requires repeated sampling of the heart muscle. This procedure is invasive, expensive, and stressful to patients. Replacing the biopsy with a simple blood test can greatly improve patient quality of care and reduce healthcare costs.

Therefore, my goal is to develop a new blood test to monitor rejection following heart transplants. Using sophisticated computer algorithms, our group discovered molecules in the blood that can discriminate between patients who have rejected their heart transplants and those who have not. My goal is to develop a blood test to precisely measure these molecules. Also, I will study these molecules for their biological role in heart rejection process by examining immune cells and damaged heart cells found in biopsies. Accomplishing these research goals will produce a valuable clinical tool that can diagnose rejection in a fast, accurate, cost-effective, and minimally invasive manner.