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Geneticists Hunt for Scleroderma Triggers

Posted: November 4, 2009

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"Several different pathways likely contribute to the gene expression subsets in scleroderma, and each subset may need to be treated differently," Whitfield says, before adding, "We're getting inquiries from rheumatologists and companies that are looking at drug trials."

In 2008, with DMS postdoctoral fellow Ausra Milano as lead author, Whitfield's group profiled gene expression to divide scleroderma patients into different categories. Those findings prompted Sargent, who participated in the 2008 study, to start mapping the genetic pathways that the disease follows in the subset of patients with the most severe cases. She will continue her experiments as a postdoctoral fellow with Whitfield, before going to work at the National Institutes of Health in January of 2010.

Journal reference: Jennifer L Sargent, Ausra Milano, Swati Bhattacharyya, John Varga, M Kari Connolly, Howard Y Chang and Michael L Whitfield. A TGFbeta-Responsive Gene Signature Is Associated with a Subset of Diffuse Scleroderma with Increased Disease Severity. Journal of Investigative Dermatology, 2009; DOI: 10.1038/jid.2009.318

Adapted from materials provided by Dartmouth Medical School., October 30, 2009