Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Geneticists Hunt for Scleroderma Triggers

02.11.2009
At its most benign, the autoimmune disease scleroderma can discolor parts of the skin of its sufferers. At its most pernicious, it can thicken and harden their skin, their blood vessels, and their internal organs before, in many cases, killing them.

In all its forms, scleroderma gives Dartmouth geneticist Michael Whitfield, his graduate students, and his postdoctoral researchers a sense of urgency in their search for the triggers of the chronic condition.

In a study that the Journal of Investigative Dermatology published in its October 2009 edition, Whitfield's team reports a closer connection between a gene profile for the profibrotic pathway TGF-beta and a tendency in some scleroderma sufferers to develop lung problems.

Jennifer Sargent, who recently earned her Ph.D. in molecular and cellular biology from DMS, is lead author of the study, which analyzed the previously-identified TGF-beta pathway signature in skin biopsies from patients and healthy control subjects from around the country.

"The finding that a gene signature expressed in skin is associated with the occurrence of lung disease is surprising and to our knowledge is previously unreported," the report says. "ILD [interstitial lung disease] is the leading cause of death among patients with dSSc [diffuse systemic sclerosis]. . . . Recent work has developed tools and methods for diagnosis, staging, and characterization of ILD in dSSc patients; however, biomarkers that reliably predict who will develop lung complications before they become symptomatic would be beneficial."

In collaboration with M. Kari Connolly, a professor of dermatology at the University of California-San Francisco, Whitfield, an associate professor of genetics at DMS, and his researchers began creating a map of skin to profile the molecular behavior of genes in scleroderma in 2001.

For the current study, he received support from the Scleroderma Research Foundation, as well as a biomedical research award to Dartmouth from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.

"Several different pathways likely contribute to the gene expression subsets in scleroderma, and each subset may need to be treated differently," Whitfield says, before adding, "We're getting inquiries from rheumatologists and companies that are looking at drug trials."

In 2008, with DMS postdoctoral fellow Ausra Milano as lead author, Whitfield's group profiled gene expression to divide scleroderma patients into different categories. Those findings prompted Sargent, who participated in the 2008 study, to start mapping the genetic pathways that the disease follows in the subset of patients with the most severe cases. She will continue her experiments as a postdoctoral fellow with Whitfield, before going to work at the National Institutes of Health in January of 2010.

David A. Corriveau | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.dartmouth.edu

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Fingerprint' technique spots frog populations at risk from pollution
27.03.2017 | Lancaster University

nachricht Parallel computation provides deeper insight into brain function
27.03.2017 | Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology (OIST) Graduate University

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Giant Magnetic Fields in the Universe

Astronomers from Bonn and Tautenburg in Thuringia (Germany) used the 100-m radio telescope at Effelsberg to observe several galaxy clusters. At the edges of these large accumulations of dark matter, stellar systems (galaxies), hot gas, and charged particles, they found magnetic fields that are exceptionally ordered over distances of many million light years. This makes them the most extended magnetic fields in the universe known so far.

The results will be published on March 22 in the journal „Astronomy & Astrophysics“.

Galaxy clusters are the largest gravitationally bound structures in the universe. With a typical extent of about 10 million light years, i.e. 100 times the...

Im Focus: Tracing down linear ubiquitination

Researchers at the Goethe University Frankfurt, together with partners from the University of Tübingen in Germany and Queen Mary University as well as Francis Crick Institute from London (UK) have developed a novel technology to decipher the secret ubiquitin code.

Ubiquitin is a small protein that can be linked to other cellular proteins, thereby controlling and modulating their functions. The attachment occurs in many...

Im Focus: Perovskite edges can be tuned for optoelectronic performance

Layered 2D material improves efficiency for solar cells and LEDs

In the eternal search for next generation high-efficiency solar cells and LEDs, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and their partners are creating...

Im Focus: Polymer-coated silicon nanosheets as alternative to graphene: A perfect team for nanoelectronics

Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are less stable. Now researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have, for the first time ever, produced a composite material combining silicon nanosheets and a polymer that is both UV-resistant and easy to process. This brings the scientists a significant step closer to industrial applications like flexible displays and photosensors.

Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are...

Im Focus: Researchers Imitate Molecular Crowding in Cells

Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to simulate these confined natural conditions in artificial vesicles for the first time. As reported in the academic journal Small, the results are offering better insight into the development of nanoreactors and artificial organelles.

Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

International Land Use Symposium ILUS 2017: Call for Abstracts and Registration open

20.03.2017 | Event News

CONNECT 2017: International congress on connective tissue

14.03.2017 | Event News

ICTM Conference: Turbine Construction between Big Data and Additive Manufacturing

07.03.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Northern oceans pumped CO2 into the atmosphere

27.03.2017 | Earth Sciences

Fingerprint' technique spots frog populations at risk from pollution

27.03.2017 | Life Sciences

Big data approach to predict protein structure

27.03.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>