Scientists could be a step closer to identifying and treating early cases of lupus, before the onset of organ-damaging illness.
New Intel Technology Could Facilitate Lupus Diagnosis
Researchers at Stanford University School of Medicine and Intel Corporation have created a novel silicon chip that can help identify people with a particularly severe form of lupus. The research is described in the August 19, 2012 online issue of the journal Nature Medicine, one of the world’s most prestigious and highly cited scientific publications.
Lupus diagnoses are typically difficult and take a long time because the disease can develop slowly, evolve over time, and manifest with a variety of symptoms. But the new technology, said the study’s senior co-author, Paul J. Utz, M.D., Ph.D., Associate Professor of Medicine at Stanford University School of Medicine, could potentially cut down the time required to determine a lupus diagnosis and its severity by days or even weeks. “We might one day even be able to do this routinely while the patient is still in the physician’s office,” he added.
The researchers arranged short pieces of a disease-associated protein on silicon chips normally used in computer microprocessors. They then used these chips created through a process used to make semiconductors, to identify people with lupus and the severity of the disease.
“Lupus is highly variable, and in some cases is quite severe,” said Dr. Utz. “About half of patients are likely to require more intensive therapy than they are receiving. We wanted to see whether we could identify these patients with our arrays.”
The researchers are hopeful that the findings could help speed up drug development by helping to elucidate how proteins interact in the body in disease states. “Companies developing therapies for lupus are now accepting patients for clinical trials without knowing which subset of disease they are in,” Dr. Utz said. “The Intel chip array method could potentially be used to identify only those patients likely to benefit, and can aid in the identification of effective drugs.”
See the Stanford University School of Medicine press release here.
Price JV, Tangsombatvisit S, Xu G, Yu J, Levy D, Baechler EC, Gozani O, Varma M, Utz PJ, and Liu CL. On silico peptide microarrays for high-resolution mapping of antibody epitopes and diverse protein-protein interactions. Nature Medicine 2012 Aug 19. doi: 10.1038/nm.2913. [Epub ahead of print]