New system for early detection of lupus developed

Autoimmune diseases, such as systemic lupus erythematosus or rheumatoid arthritis, are difficult to diagnose, specially in early stages. Specifically, in the case of lupus, specific antibodies aimed at antigens located in the nucleus of cells appear, including the anti-Ro/SSA. These anti-Ro/SSA antibodies can be found in the blood before other autoantibodies related with lupus, and can even be detected without the existence of symptoms.

As explained by ángel Maquieira, researcher of Valencia's Polytechnic University (UPV), belonging to the Molecular Recognition and Technological Development Institute (IDM), the tests currently used to detect the presence of immunologic bodies are based on tracing autoantibodies with the ELISA technique. These tests are not very sensitive, which limits the ability to reveal the extremely low amounts of these antibodies that are usually present in the first stages of the disease.

To tackle this deficiency, researchers of the Universitat Polytècnica de València, the Universitat de València and the Hospital Universitari i Politècnic La Fe have developed, at a laboratory scale, a highly sensitive biosensor that enables the early detection of autoantibodies in very early stages of the disease, based on a sample of mere microlitres of blood or saliva.

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