This work was a collaboration with Dr. Shan Wang’s lab at Stanford University. They have developed a portable platform for detecting specific genes using giant magnetoresistive (GMR) biosensors. In a GMR biosensor, magnetic nanoparticles are used as DNA tags. When a specific DNA sequence is bound to its tag, a magnetic field is generated and read by a sensor in real time. In this work, the GMR biosensor technology was used to detect changes in gene expression. To do this, RNA molecules were converted to DNA and tagged with the magnetic nanoparticles. To demonstrate the applicability of this new method of measuring gene expression, Dr. Franco’s group employed it as a tool for the diagnosis of influenza virus infection by measuring the production of a subset of human genes in response to the virus. This work simultaneously highlights the power of immune system metrics and advances the field of gene expression-based diagnostics.
What is exciting about this article?
This advance is exciting because it presents a new way of measuring human gene expression with a portable device. After integrating and expediting several parts of the assay, this technology has the potential to become a portable device capable of simultaneously measuring the expression of multiple human genes at the point of care.
How does this fit into the larger NIAMS portfolio?
The availability of a point-of-care test that can measure the expression of multiple human genes could impact the diagnosis of infectious diseases like influenza or COVID-19. It could also pave the way for studies of gene expression-based biomarkers for the diagnosis, characterization, or staging of autoimmune or inflammatory diseases.
Research reported in this publication was supported by the Intramural Research Program of the NIHʼs National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases.