New gene test flags risk of serious complications in sarcoidosis

October 12, 2012

(Medical Xpress)—Researchers at the University of Illinois Hospital & Health Sciences System have identified a genetic signature that distinguishes patients with complicated sarcoidosis, an inflammatory lung disease that can be fatal, from patients with a more benign form of the disease. The gene signature could become the basis for a simple blood test.

Their findings are reported online in the journal PLOS ONE.

In sarcoidosis, tiny clumps of abnormal tissue form in organs of the body. These clusters of immune cells, called granulomas, cause inflammation. Sarcoidosis can occur in the lymph nodes, liver, eyes, skin or other tissues, but almost always also in the lungs. The cause of the disease is unknown. African Americans are at higher risk for the disease and for more severe cases.

"One of the perplexing aspects of this disease is that two thirds of the people who get sarcoidosis get better with only minimal therapy," says Dr. Joe G.N. "Skip" Garcia, vice president for health affairs at the University of Illinois and principle investigator on the study.

But one third of go on to develop complicated sarcoidosis—neurologic sarcoidosis, cardiac sarcoidosis and progressive lung disease, Garcia said. Complicated sarcoidosis can leave patients with lung damage, and in a small percentage of cases the disease can be fatal.

The challenge, Garcia says, is that there is no difference in the clinical presentation between patients with simple sarcoidosis and those who will go on to develop more serious disease.

The researchers took blood from patients with simple and complicated sarcoidosis as well as patients without the disease to look for a pattern of gene expression unique to complicated sarcoidosis.

They were able to identify a distinct 20-gene pattern of gene expression that could reliably identify those most likely to progress to complicated sarcoidosis.

A 31- signature had been identified previously, but a smaller panel of genes makes the new test less expensive and more useful clinically, said Garcia.

"We are dedicated to looking for new insights as well as new therapies for sarcoidosis and hope to someday be able to identify people at risk for it ahead of time," Garcia said.

UI Health has partnered with the Bernie Mac Foundation to form the Bernie Mac Star Clinic for Sarcoidosis, where the researchers hope to further validate use of the genetic signature.

They hope the could someday be the basis for a biochip that could identify patients most likely to progress to life-threatening disease.

Explore further: Biosignatures distinguish between tuberculosis and sarcoidosis

Related Stories

Biosignatures distinguish between tuberculosis and sarcoidosis

May 7, 2012
With a range of diseases, doctors need unique features which they can use to unequivocally identify a patient's illness for an appropriate diagnosis. Scientists therefore search for the biomarkers for an illness or a combination ...

Study reveals sarcoidosis-related mortality rates among black women

May 22, 2012
A new study conducted by researchers from Boston University has found that sarcoidosis accounts for 25 percent of all deaths among women in the Black Women's Health Study who have the disease. The study is the largest epidemiologic ...

Recommended for you

Lung cancer triggers pulmonary hypertension

November 17, 2017
Shortness of breath and respiratory distress often increase the suffering of advanced-stage lung cancer patients. These symptoms can be triggered by pulmonary hypertension, as scientists at the Max Planck Institute for Heart ...

Researchers discover an Achilles heel in a lethal leukemia

November 16, 2017
Researchers have discovered how a linkage between two proteins in acute myeloid leukemia enables cancer cells to resist chemotherapy and showed that disrupting the linkage could render the cells vulnerable to treatment. St. ...

Computer program finds new uses for old drugs

November 16, 2017
Researchers at the Case Comprehensive Cancer Center at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine have developed a computer program to find new indications for old drugs. The computer program, called DrugPredict, ...

Pharmacoscopy improves therapy for relapsed blood cancer in a first clinical trial

November 16, 2017
Researchers at CeMM and the Medical University of Vienna presented a preliminary report in The Lancet Hematology on the clinical impact of an integrated ex vivo approach called pharmacoscopy. The procedures measure single-cell ...

Wider sampling of tumor tissues may guide drug choice, improve outcomes

November 15, 2017
A new study focused on describing genetic variations within a primary tumor, differences between the primary and a metastatic branch of that tumor, and additional diversity found in tumor DNA in the blood stream could help ...

A new strategy for prevention of liver cancer development

November 14, 2017
Primary liver cancer is now the second leading cause of cancer-related death worldwide, and its incidences and mortality are increasing rapidly in the United Stated. In late stages of the malignancy, there are no effective ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.