Comparison of gene expression profiles using microarray analysis of tissues from patients suffering from systemic scleroderma and of those from unaffected individuals is reported in the September 29, 2003 PNAS by Michael Whitfield and colleagues at University of California at San Francisco. Results provide the possibility of a means of identifying affected individuals before symptoms appear and of early treatment to prevent the disease becoming sufficiently advanced to threaten the life of the patient (PNAS, DOI:/10.1073/pnas.1635114100, September 29, 2003).

Whitfield et al. prepared total RNA from punch biopsies from four affected and four unaffected individuals taken from the forearm—diseased in the affected group—and the back. Analysis was carried out on Affymetrix oligonucleotide arrays representing 12,000 human genes and analyzed by hierarchical clustering. The authors identified 2776 differentially expressed genes, readily determining diseased from normal tissues. Normal back tissue in affected individuals gave the same profile of gene...

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