Hay fever found to be complex
The researchers started by developing methods to construct digital twins of patients with hay fever. They used a technique, single-cell RNA sequencing, to determine all gene activity in each of thousands of individual immune cells – more specifically white blood cells. Since these interactions between genes and cell types may differ between different time points in the same patient, the researchers measured gene activity at different time points before and after stimulating white blood cells with pollen.
In order to construct computer models of all the data, the researchers used network analyses. Networks can be used to describe and analyse complex systems. For example, a football team could be analysed as a network based on the passes between the players. The player that passes most to other players during the whole match may be most important in that network. Similar principles were applied to construct the computer models, or “twins”, as well as to identify the most important disease protein.
In the current study, the researchers found that multiple proteins and signalling cascades were important in seasonal allergies, and that these varied greatly across cell types and at different stages of the disease.
“We can see that these are extremely complicated changes that occur in different phases of a disease. The variation between different times points means that you have to treat the patient with the right medicine at the right time”, says Dr Mikael Benson, professor at Linköping University, Sweden, who led the study.
Source: Healthcare in Europe