Clinical OMICS

JAN-FEB 2018

Healthcare magazine for research scientists, labs, pathologists, hospitals, cancer centers, physicians and biopharma companies providing news articles, expert interviews and videos about molecular diagnostics in precision medicine

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Blausen Medical January/February 2018 Clinical OMICs 21 cific disease, rather what the gene does, what function it con- trols," said Alessio Fasano, M.D., division chief, pediatric gastroen- terology and nutrition; and director, Center for Celiac Research and Treatment at Massachusetts General Hospital. Using transcriptomics, or RNA sequencing, scientists can study gene expression in a sample from a patient at a given time, or to monitor change in gene expression over time from multiple samples. This has clear advan- tages for research into autoimmune disease (see sidebar). Proteomics is also being widely used in autoimmune research to analyze molecules secreted by a variety of immune cells including autoantibodies and cytokines. This is a focus for Paul Utz, M.D., professor of immu- nology and rheumatology, Stanford University School of Medicine, and his team. They are using bead-based multi- plex arrays, which allow investigation of around 250 ana- lytes simultaneously, to better diagnose, subset, and treat patients with these conditions. "Once you know if patients are in a particular subset that might be at greater risk of various clinical phenotypes or clinical signs or symptoms, then you can customize therapy based on the results," he explained. Utz and his team are also looking at how a person's epig- enome could influence their immune system. They found a significant epigenetic difference between the immune sys- tem of elderly versus young individuals and are doing com- parisons with patients with autoimmune disease. "Our hypothesis is that as we look at immune cells derived from people with autoimmune diseases that they are going to look more like old people with a defective immune system than otherwise healthy young people," Utz said. When asked what technological advancements he con- sidered particularly significant over the last few years, Utz highlighted single-cell RNA sequencing and its ability to (continued on next page) Bruce Blaus / Wikimedia Commons

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