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Reuters Health Information (2004-10-28): Routine testing for viral RNA could improve safety of organ transplantation

Public Health

Routine testing for viral RNA could improve safety of organ transplantation

Last Updated: 2004-10-28 18:30:15 -0400 (Reuters Health)

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Routine testing for viral RNA in serum samples from transplant donors could help identify infected organs that would have been missed with standard screening methods, according to a report in the October 30th issue of The Lancet.

In the new study, Dr. Jean-Michel Pawlotsky, from Hopital Henri Mondor in Creteil, France, and colleagues used nucleic acid testing to look for HIV and hepatitic C virus (HCV) RNA in samples from 3049 donors. The subjects included 2236 organ donors, 636 tissue donors, and 177 cornea donors.

Five HCV RNA-positive donors were identified among the 2119 HCV-seronegative organ donors and one HCV RNA-positive donor was discovered among the 631 HCV-seronegative tissue donors, the researchers point out.

In contrast, nucleic acid testing failed to uncover any HIV-seronegative donors who were, in fact, HIV RNA-positive, the authors note.

While routine nucleic acid testing could improve transplantation safety, the researchers state that further studies are needed to determine the clinical significance, if any, of seronegative HCV viremia.

"Implementation of systematic nucleic acid testing screening of tissue (and cell) donors is highly feasible because viral testing can be done every day and can be based on standardised, partly automated, commercial techniques and procedures," Dr. Pawlotsky's team writes. In contrast, further technical refinements are required before such testing can be widely applied to screening of organ donors.

Lancet 2004;364:1611-1612.

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