New tech helps in identifying biomarkers for diseases
Washington D.C. [U.S.A.], Feb. 12 : It has come to light that a new technology has been developed that enables identification of biomarkers for a wide range of diseases.
The new, highly sensitive Luminex Multiplex Glycan Array enables the kind of volume needed to establish associations between antibody levels in our blood to these complex sugars, or glycans, and conditions from cancer to autoimmune disease and dementia, according to the new research.
Dr Jin-Xiong She, the lead author, said, "For many diseases that kill us every day, there still are no good biomarkers".
Sugar coating on our cells is hardly icing, rather essential to cell health and ours. It helps cells know what other cells to bind to; its adhesive nature even helps them stick to other cells. It can help ensure a negative charge on the cell surface that keeps cell contents inside and provide protection from bacteria or viruses. It helps ensure that the proteins our cells make stay on task. It even helps our immune system recognize our cells as us."
But the sugar coating can also, often inexplicably, become a target for our immune system, which can dramatically alter cell function and lead to disease.
In fact, the scientific team, led by She, has already used the array to identify a potential biomarker for high risk of ovarian cancer relapse following surgery and standard chemotherapy regimens.
"While we think this new test will eventually enable us to do many things, right now we have evidence it can help determine biomarkers for those at risk for relapse from cancer," said She.
She theorised broad-range glycan antibody assessments could one day become part of a routine patient exam, like blood levels of cholesterol and lipids, which provide early clues that something is amiss.
Dr Sharad Purohit, co-investigator and author, said, "Proteins determine cell function and about half the proteins we make are modified by glycans in a continuous and fundamental biochemical process".
The MCG team and others have early evidence, for example, that some abnormal cells, like cancer cells, have distinctly different sugar coatings, perhaps changed by environmental exposures like foods or toxins as well as family genetics.
Their published assessments using that assay found that ovarian cancer patients with high levels of antibodies to glycan 11 in their blood, for example, had a significantly lower probability of survival. They found glycan 147 also associated with poorer survival, while glycans 54 and 49 were consistently high in all patients.
"This is really about predicting clinical outcome right after treatment for each patient," said She. "What we want to do is to identify a biomarker that can separate the patients who have a poor versus a good chance of survival."
The sugar coating on our cells comes in part from foods we consume, like carbohydrates, but our body also makes some sugars that we may not get from our diet.
The study is published in the journal Nature Communications.