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Scripps Research study underlines potential of new technology to diagnose disease
Date:3/21/2013

JUPITER, FL March 21, 2013 Researchers at The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) in Jupiter, FL, have developed cutting-edge technology that can successfully screen human blood for disease markers. This tool may hold the key to better diagnosing and understanding today's most pressing and puzzling health conditions, including autoimmune diseases.

"This study validates that the 'antigen surrogate' technology will indeed be a powerful tool for diagnostics," said Thomas Kodadek, PhD, a professor in the Departments of Chemistry and Cancer Biology and vice chairman of the Department of Chemistry at TSRI, whose group developed the technology.

The latest study, published in the journal Chemistry & Biology on March 21, 2013, shows how the technology accurately identified human blood markers for neuromyelitis optica (NMO), a rare autoimmune disorder resembling multiple sclerosis that can result in blindness and paralysis. Following a similar study on mouse models for multiple sclerosis two years ago, the work confirms that the technique can also be successfully applied to humans.

Finding the Needle in a Haystack

The blood is filled with molecules called "antibodies" released by the immune system to defend the body against disease. Many autoimmune diseases produce antibodies specific to that disease. Identifying these disease-specific antibodies among the millions of other similar yet non-disease-specific antibodies in the blood, however, is much like finding a needle in a haystack.

Many current diagnostic methods detect disease-specific antibodies by using part of the virus, bacteria or cellular component targeted by the antibody in a patient's body, essentially "fishing" for the antibody using its distinct target as bait. Unfortunately, many disease-specific antibodies and their targets are currently unidentified.

Kodadek and his colleagues have found a way to sidestep this conundrum by substitu
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Contact: Eric Sauter
esauter@scripps.edu
267-337-3859
Scripps Research Institute
Source:Eurekalert  

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