Dr Howard Slater

Research Group

Assist. Prof. Howard Slater, Principal Investigator
Prof David Power, Co-Investigator
Assist. Prof. Frank Ierino, Co-Investigator
Dr Bruno Damien, Co-Investigator
Ms Devika Ganesamoorthy, Res. Associate
Assist. Prof. Nigel Toussaint, Collaborator
Assist. Prof. John Kanellis, Collaborator


Murdoch Childrens Research Institute, Parkville, Australia


Improving Organ Transplant Outcomes Using a New Non-invasive Monitoring Test

This study addresses the highest priority, unmet health need in the field of kidney transplantation. An effective non-invasive test for transplant surveillance will increase the lifespan and quality of life of transplant patients and produce cost savings by reducing the number of failed transplants and the need for dialysis. Currently, the ‘gold standard’ test consists of histology assessment of a tissue sample collected by needle biopsy. However, this cannot be done frequently as the procedure is unpleasant and can itself cause damage to the organ.

The aim is to develop a simple blood test (‘OrganHealth’) that will detect graft damage early. The test uses harmless genetic variations called ‘copy number variants’ that exist in everyone’s DNA. However, as everyone has different ‘copy number variants’ they can be used to distinguish the patient’s own DNA from the ‘non-self DNA’ in the kidney transplant. The hypothesis is that when the transplanted kidney is attacked by the patient’s immune system (rejection) or undergoes damage due to side effects of the drugs that are used to prevent rejection or as a result of other underlying health problems such as diabetes, the cells in the new kidney die and release DNA into the patient’s bloodstream. The test is designed to measure this DNA release specifically with the expectation that it will give an early warning of problems and allow quicker and more effective treatment management.

Patients will be tested at regular intervals for 12 months after transplant. The levels of ‘non-self’ DNA will be correlated with biopsy results and other indicators of kidney function to determine how useful the ‘OrganHealth’ test might be to improve clinical management.

Progress Report

Final Report

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