Cheap and effective lupus detection in less than an hour



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Currently, autoimmune diseases such as systemic lupus erythematosus or rheumatoid arthritis, among others, are difficult to diagnose, since in the early stages the patient may present a wide variety of symptoms, which can also be observed in different autoimmune diseases. As explained by Professor David Giménez Romero, a researcher at the University of Valencia (Spain), "lupus presents a difficult diagnosis because it is a great mimic of the symptoms of many other diseases and may also appear and disappear."

Lupus is characterized by a large production of autoantibodies that are directed against membrane antigens, and among them are anti-Ro / SSA. Anti-Ro / SSA antibodies can be found in the blood before other auto-antibodies related to lupus.

According to Ángel Maquieira, a researcher at the Polytechnic University of Valencia (UPV), belonging to the Institute of Molecular Recognition and Technological Development (IDM), the immunological tests currently used are based on the determination of autoantibodies by the ELISA technique. These tests are not very sensitive, which limits the determination of extremely low concentrations of antibodies that may be present in the early stages of the disease.

To meet this need, researchers at the Universitat Politècnica de València, Universitat de València and Hospital Università i Politècnica La Fe have developed, on a laboratory scale, new biosensors of high sensitivity and low cost that allow the early detection of autoantibodies. , in very early stages of the disease.

From a sample of a few microliters of blood or saliva, the system patented by UPV, UV and HUP La Fe is able to detect the presence of anti-Ro / SSA antibodies characteristic of each disease.

"The developed biosensor represents a new paradigm within the biosensor industry because we not only detect the target antibody concentrations, but we can also identify the way they interact. In this way, the diagnosis can be made using the mechanistic fingerprints of each disease , whereas the prognosis is achieved using the target antibody concentration, which is therefore a 2-in-1 system (diagnosis + prognosis), which ostensibly reduces the number of false positives and negatives. Current biosensors only quantify " , explains the professor of the University of Valencia David Giménez.

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David Giménez Romero. (Photo: UV)

At the same time, Maquieira explains: "Each autoimmune disease creates its own anti-Ro / SSA antibodies with a particular fingerprint, and these fingerprints are distinguished by our biosensor. In addition, our detector effectively quantifies antibodies anti-Ro / SSA in very low concentrations, which allows us to evaluate the symptomatology that the patient presents in an extraordinarily early manner, "explains Maquieira.

As proof of concept, previous assays showed a sensitivity of 1.51 U / mL of autoantibodies, two orders of magnitude more sensitive than current commercial ELISA techniques.

Researchers already have a biosensor that could be used in clinical practice. The latest results of the work developed by UPV, UV and HUP La Fe researchers were published in the technical journals Biosensors and Bioelectronics and Analytical and Bioanalytical Chemistry.

Dr. José Andrés Román, director of the Clinical Area of ​​Rheumatological Diseases of La Fe Hospital, points out that the results obtained in comparative studies with this technique in more than 150 patients with lupus and in a group of people with a healthy control population, "confirmed this high sensitivity of the new technique studied ". (Source: UV)

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