DEC 15, 2017 6:20 AM PST

Experimental "MyLeukoMap" Test Predicts Death for Heart Failure Patients

WRITTEN BY: Kara Marker

Scientists from the University of California - Los Angeles introduce “MyLeukoMap,” an experimental blood test to predict a heart failure patient’s risk of organ dysfunction and death after heart surgery. MyLeukoMap was developed from an existing molecular blood test used to diagnose organ rejection in heart transplant recipients, called AlloMap.

Principal investigator Dr. Mario Deng led the study of 29 participants, all patients with advanced heart failure. Of the original group, 17 patients showed improvement after receiving mechanical circulatory support surgery, which includes ventricular assist devices and temporary total artificial hearts to boost heart pumping function. Of the 17 who improved, 88 percent survived for at least one year, while only 27 percent of the 12 participants who did not show initial improvement survived past one year of the surgery.

Using blood samples collected during the study, researchers identified 28 genes that contributed to predicting patients’ organ function recovery after surgery. Twelve of these genes also helped predict whether patients would survive at least one year following surgery.

Going forward, the new MyLeukoMap experimental blood test will use this genetic data, obtained from immune cells, to predict survival rates for people with advanced heart failure. In recent tests, MyLeukoMap was 93 percent accurate.

Limitations of current clinical methods to predict what MyLeukoMap very accurately predicts include difficulty with “very sick” patients and lack of use of molecular information.

A demand for MyLeukoMap’s accuracy comes from the risk of multi-organ dysfunction syndrome (MODS), which commonly affects people with heart failure and can be fatal after device implantation surgery. MODS is also the most common cause of death for patients admitted to a hospital’s intensive care unit (ICU). It is connected to abnormal white blood cell activity, and its clinical course and causes are infamously difficult to predict.

MyLeukoMap will likely improve conversations between doctors, patients, and patients’ families, improving the decision making process concerning treatment options. Deng’s next study will include one thousand participants, and he is also interested in expanding MyLeukoMap’s capabilities to predicting organ function and likelihood of survival for other types of heart surgery.

The present study was published in the journal PLOS ONE.

Sources: Surgical Treatment: Evidence-Based and Problem-Oriented, University of California - Los Angeles Health Sciences

About the Author
I am a scientific journalist and enthusiast, especially in the realm of biomedicine. I am passionate about conveying the truth in scientific phenomena and subsequently improving health and public awareness. Sometimes scientific research needs a translator to effectively communicate the scientific jargon present in significant findings. I plan to be that translating communicator, and I hope to decrease the spread of misrepresented scientific phenomena! Check out my science blog: ScienceKara.com.
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