The immune fingerprint thus produced will show thousands of spots fluorescing at different levels, corresponding to antibody activity. Immunosignatures may be registered repeatedly over time and will display characteristic changes following exposure to a pathogen, a vaccine or any other factor provoking an alteration in antibody activity.
Johnston notes that this approach to diagnosis represents a new paradigm, in that patients will be able to monitor their health with respect to their own particular baseline immune activity, rather than being measured against some standard established for the population as a whole. The method has been tested as a diagnostic for over 20 diseases to date, with each displaying a characteristic portrait.
In addition to accuracy, immunosignaturing provides a particularly versatile platform for disease diagnosis. Unlike many traditional diagnostic examsfor example, the widely used ELISA (for Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay)immunosignaturing is not pathogen specific. It therefore permits a general diagnostic screening for multiple disease factors from a single sample. In previous studies, the group demonstrated that immunosignaturing delivers useful diagnostic information for influenza, Alzheimer's disease, pancreatic diseases and lupus.
In the current study, the group demonstrates that immunosignatures remain stable over time and largely unaffected by variance in methods of collection. Such versatility could open the door to the use of vast archival material, for example, samples from prior studies and disease epidemics. It would also allow immunosignaturing to be broadly applied as a diagnostic for routine health monitoring, particularly in developing countries. Samples of blood or saliva could be mailed to a central processing center.
Immunosignatures from the same human donor, derived from both serum and plasma were compared in the study, showing good correlation. Two
Arizona State University