Immunosignaturing Platform Provides Pre-Symptom Diagnostics
By Labmedica International staff writers
Posted on 21 Feb 2017
Image: The technology consists of a chip with peptide arrays for binding antibodies in blood samples from patients and healthy individual, and is enabling researchers to discover, define, and detect immunosignatures for various diseases (Photo courtesy of ASU Biodesign Institute).
Researchers have developed an immunosignature profiling technology aimed to provide people with a means of monitoring their health status and a means for early detection of disease by rapidly testing for many diseases at once from a single drop of blood. In addition, the versatile technology could be used to secure a nation’s blood supply or give early warning of a disease epidemic.
An international group of scientists, inventors, and entrepreneurs are bringing this invention to fruition and “will give people a deeper understanding of the medical, behavioral, and environmental factors that can accelerate disease or optimize health,” according to a recent announcement by Prof. Jun Wang, iCarbonX founder and creator of the Digital Life Alliance, based in Shenzhen, China.
ImmunoSignature, the diagnostic platform developed by a team led by Prof. Stephen Albert Johnston and Prof. Neal Woodbury of Arizona State University (ASU) Biodesign Institute, was a critical final piece needed to complete iCarbonX's potentially revolutionary approach to healthcare. With a single drop of blood, the platform can detect diseases that involve an immune response (e.g. autoimmune, cancer, infectious disease, metabolic, and neurologic diseases). The team has already successfully demonstrated the potential of immunosignaturing for diagnosing over 50 diseases, including diabetes, cancer, and Alzheimer’s.
“My goal has always been to detect illness before it begins,” said Prof. Johnston, adding that he predicts that the technology to track and report disease biomarkers directly to patients could be available within 5 years. Backed by a USD 400 million investment, the Digital Life Alliance aims at producing a personalized health guide, and will, according to Prof. Wang, “merge genetic, biological, and patient-generated data with sequencing and AI (artificial intelligence) technology to instantly detect meaningful signals about health, disease and aging, and deliver a personalized guide for living a healthy life.”
“Scientists with expertise, imagination, and boundless aspiration are who we recruit to Arizona, ASU, and Biodesign,” said ASU President Michael Crow, “Today we are being recognized as a powerhouse in the world of innovation and for generating use-inspired solutions. iCarbonX’s significant investment in technologies conceived at ASU is a real demonstration of what can happen when public and private enterprises bring their best minds together.” Launched in 2004, ASU’s Biodesign Institute represents the state’s largest single investment in research infrastructure in the history of Arizona.
Digital Life Alliance includes HealthTell as one of 7 core companies. According to Prof. Johnston, HealthTell’s high-density peptide array platform is the first real-time assessment that will be simple, inexpensive, and comprehensive. The HealthTell technology, particularly when combined with data from the other Digital Life Alliance partners, has the potential to enable health monitoring on a regular basis using single-drop blood samples.
Catching diseases early save lives, helps eradicate challenges faced by those who suffer from illness, and results in cost savings. Some of the leading causes of disease – both infectious and chronic – give rise to immune responses fairly early. Immunosignatures of antibody patterns that indicate early-response would provide snapshots for monitoring a person’s health as well as a more detailed picture of health status.
“The idea is to change medicine from post-symptomatic to pre-symptomatic. To do that, you have to monitor healthy people and figure out early what’s happening to them,” said Prof. Johnston, With our rapidly aging population and collaborative spirit, he envisions Arizona as a possible “R&D proving ground” to help get ahead of disease and its costs. We “will continue to push the envelope on what health and disease information we can glean from immunosignatures,” he said.
“We can only reach this audacious goal if we successfully integrate traditionally separate fields of expertise into one collaborative ecosystem,” said Prof. Wang. As former CEO of the Beijing Genomics Institute, he has built the world’s largest DNA sequencing hub, which aims to make genomic information a routine part of medical checkups. His iCarbonX ecosystem includes HealthTell, SomaLogic, PatientsLikeMe, AOBiome, GALT, Imagu, and Robustnique.