Transplant rejection can occur at any time after the procedure, and it’s often asymptomatic, causing patients to live in constant anxiety. Furthermore, the current methods for monitoring transplanted organ health have limitations. Blood tests measuring specific markers like creatinine and blood urea nitrogen are imprecise, often leading to false results. The gold standard for detecting rejection is a biopsy, which is invasive and carries risks.

Northwestern University researchers have developed a groundbreaking electronic device designed to continuously monitor the health of transplanted organs in real-time providing reassurance and peace of mind to transplant recipients. Early detection allows physicians to intervene promptly with anti-rejection therapies, potentially saving the patient’s life.

This ultrathin, soft implant is placed directly on a transplanted kidney and can detect temperature irregularities associated with inflammation and other bodily responses indicative of transplant rejection. When anomalies are detected, it wirelessly streams data to a nearby smartphone or tablet to alert the patient or physician.

The device is remarkably small and unobtrusive, sitting beneath the fibrous layer that protects the kidney. It contains a highly sensitive thermometer and miniature coin cell battery, all encased in biocompatible plastic. Data is wirelessly transmitted using Bluetooth technology to external devices.

In a recent study using a small animal model with transplanted kidneys, the device detected signs of rejection up to three weeks earlier than current monitoring methods. This early detection could significantly improve patient outcomes, well-being, and the chances of preserving donated organs, which are in high demand due to organ shortages.

The researchers plan to continue testing the system in larger animal models and explore methods for recharging the battery to extend its lifespan. While initially designed for kidney transplants, the technology could potentially be adapted for other organ transplants and disease models. This breakthrough offers hope for transplant recipients, providing early warning and reducing anxiety about the health of their transplanted organs.

Article written by Dave Collins| Image by Pixaby



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