October 26, 2008
Assay Tools Watch Gene Expression During Common Cold Infection

Here's an example of scientific questions biologists can now ask due to advances in assaying tools. Scientists can watch the effects of a rhinovirus (one of the several families of viruses that cause the common cold) on human gene expression in the nasal passages. This will help guide development of treatments to reduce the symptoms and spread of viruses that cause the common cold.

"Advances in genomics technology now allow us to analyze tens of thousands of genes in the same amount of time required to analyze just a handful of genes just a decade ago," said Jay Tiesman, P&G Genomics Group Leader and study author.

Forty-eight hours after inoculation, the expression of 6,530 genes in infected volunteers were significantly either up-regulated or down-regulated compared to the same genes in the control group. In other words, rhinovirus infection triggered a massive immune response in the nasal mucosa. Because rhinovirus is not as destructive as other more serious viral infections, this response appears to be disproportionate to the threat.

Gene expression testing and gene sequencing tools have become so powerful so quickly that we aren't yet seeing the results at the clinical level of treatments. Advanced assaying tools are enabling the asking and answering of questions which couldn't be approached a decade ago. Because of the continuing big increases in ability to measure gene expression I expect many heretofore incurable diseases to finally become curable. Even the common cold will meet its defeat.

The cold causes an excess of inflammation.

The researchers classified the active genes according to function, and found many involved in a process known as chemotaxis, which recruits various immune cells to the site of infection. These particular genes have been correlated with symptoms such as inflammation, congestion and runny nose. Other groups of active genes have also been classified; among them are genes which make antiviral compounds thought to help thwart infections.

"This study shows that after rhinovirus infection, cold symptoms develop because parts of our immune system are in overdrive," said Lynn Jump, Principal Researcher at P&G and study author. "The findings are important because they provide us a blueprint for developing the ideal cold treatment: one that maintains the body's natural antiviral response while normalizing the inflammatory response."

I would say the ideal cold treatment would be a vaccine that vaccinates against a large variety of cold viruses.

Share |      Randall Parker, 2008 October 26 11:20 PM  Biotech Assay Tools

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