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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Page 23 of 51

22 Clinical OMICs January/February 2018 identify completely new cell types. He also praised a method used in molec- ular biology to study the accessibility of chromatin called ATAC-seq (Assay for Transposase-Accessible Chromatin using sequencing). "People can see what the genetic reg- ulators are, what transcription factors are driving the process, what part of the chromatin is open and how it changes in disease or following therapy," he explained. "Then CyTOF (mass cytom- etry) has really revolutionized how we can look at about 40 different cell mark- ers at a time." Metabolomics, which assesses cellu- lar metabolites using mass spectrometry and high-resolu- tion proton nuclear magnetic resonance, is another omics technology being used to study autoimmune disease. "We are currently utilizing metabolomic screening of cerebrospinal fluid from multiple sclerosis patients," commented Mir. She added: "The metabolome represents the amplified sum total of the changes occurring in a particular state (nor- mal vs. diseased). We hope to identify novel biomarkers of disease activity and progression as well as discover poten- tial therapeutic targets by unraveling the altered metabo- lome in multiple sclerosis." Reclassifying Autoimmune Disease Marta Alarcón-Riquelme, M.D., Ph.D., Uni- versity of Granada, Spain, is one of the lead researchers for the PRE- CISE-SADs project. Its aim is to use multi-omic tech- niques and bioinformat- ics to reclassify the six systemic autoimmune diseases represented by the study's 2871 patients located in 12 different countries. T h e re s e a rc h e r s h o p e i n f o r m a t i o n gained through this proj- ect will allow new bio- markers and drug targets to be identified to help diagnose and treat these patients more effectively. "This way of reclassifying diseases, it has been done a lot in cancer. We have lung cancer, prostate cancer, breast cancer and so on, but the people working on cancer have been smart enough to use the term 'cancer ' for all of them. Now we have to say 'autoimmunity'," commented Alarcón- Riquelme. Fasano and his team believe the microbiome may play an important role in the onset of autoimmune disease and are currently recruiting children into the Celiac Disease Genomic Environmental Microbiome and Metabolomic Study (CDGEMM). The aim of CDGEMM is to follow children who have a first-degree relative with celiac disease, and are therefore at risk themselves, to try to understand what triggers could precipitate the onset of autoimmunity. As Fasano expanded: "We hope that will give us the sub- groups, and possible targets, to stop the chain of events that leads to the autoimmune process, with the outcome being twofold: one, personalized medicine; and two, primary pre- vention, [to] intercept the disease before it happens." In the Clinic While use of multi-omics techniques to study autoimmune disease is relatively new, and research is largely focusied on diagnosis and classification, early findings are already beginning to impact patients. Utz and his team are using their bead-based array tech- nology to analyze samples from patients with autoimmune (continued from previous page) (continued on page 24) Alessio Fasano, M.D. (l) and researcher in the lab at the Center for Celiac Research and Treatment. NIAID, NIH

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