"We theorized that if we looked at the gene expression signature of blood cells in healthy people, we could look for possible biological markers that characterize those who subsequently developed MS," Achiron explains.
Examining blood samples of 20 19-year-old Israelis who were inducted into the army as healthy soldiers, and the nine of them who later developed MS, Achiron and her team at Sheba were able to use a "high throughput analysis" with more than 12,000 gene transcripts expressions. The screening compared similarities and differences in the blood of those who developed MS and those who did not, eventually establishing biological markers.
"Those who will develop MS will show a different blood signature from those who will not," states Achiron. "When we compared the gene expression signatures, we saw a similar pattern of the same working biological processes."
These early genetic markers may now be used to test for MS up to nine years before healthy young adults start developing symptoms. And because MS is thought to have a genetic component and a tendency to be found in siblings, Achiron foresees that the biomarkers will be used as a tool for brothers and sisters of patients."
Anyone understand "gene expression signatures"? This is new to me.