In a recent review, researchers from the Department of Biomedical Engineering of the University of Houston discussed promising advances in noninvasive biomarker detection in patients with lupus, a disease whose diagnosis has typically been confirmed through a very invasive renal biopsy. The review was titled “Protein Arrays for Biomarker Discovery in Lupus” and published in the journal Proteomics Clinical Applications.
Patients’ physiological samples can now be screened through special design chips known as antibody and antigen microarrays. These diagnose tools can give the protein or antibody profile, known as biomarkers, of crude serum and urine samples from lupus patients. “One example of recombinant antibody microarray use has been for multiplexed systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) serum protein profiling with a focus on proteins with immunoregulatory roles,” the authors wrote. Using this technique, researchers also detected increased levels of urine angiostatin in patients with active SLE, suggesting it as a promising lupus biomarker. In addition, antigen microarrays detect increased reactivity levels of autoantibodies that are SLE-associated and not present in healthy controls.
“These recent successful biomarker detections in lupus and other pathologies, and from a variety of antigen array systems, indeed show both rapid progress and considerable room for technology transfer and further advances, ” the authors said.
Peptide arrays are a more specific variant of antigen arrays that detect patients’ autoantibodies against specific regions of a certain protein. This type of array has already allowed the identification of pathogenically brain-reactive autoantibodies in a subgroup of patients.
Finally, researchers are developing other array techniques with chemical sensors and biosensors to detect the underlying metabolic characteristics of hyperactive immune cells in lupus. In the future, a combination of these different arrays may greatly improve lupus diagnosis.“Upon greater and more detailed biomarker discoveries, protein arrays could then be arranged into panels, a ‘biomarker panel array,’ for increasingly accurate point-of-care diagnostics and real time disease monitoring upon coupling with information/communications technologies to establish high speed telemedicine systems. Therefore, diseases such as lupus could be monitored in higher degrees of detail at earlier stages, long before irreversible organ damage, ” the authors concluded in their review.