Our Bold Idea
The human immune system is a diagnostic gold mine, exquisitely sensitive to virtually any type of potential threat we may encounter. It can rapidly pinpoint the presence of infectious invaders, be they viral, bacterial, fungal or other, as well as suspicious proteins, sugars, peptides, lipids and post-translational modifications. Biodesign researcher Stephen Albert Johnston is working to harness the immune system’s uncanny abilities as a record keeper of the body’s biological status.
Johnston’s ongoing studies have advanced a technique dubbed ‘immunosignaturing’—a means of acquiring a faithful snapshot of immune activity, ultimately providing physicians with a powerful new tool for diagnosing and treating disease. This technique could provide rapid, pre-symptomatic diagnosis for a broad range of ailments, from infectious diseases to chronic afflictions to varied forms of cancer, offering the best hope for successful treatment.
Immunosignaturing provides a universal platform, capable of detecting subtle transformations over the entire antibody profile. The pattern may then be compared with an immunosignature recorded after exposure to a pathogen, a vaccine or any other factor provoking a change in the antibody portrait. “We are developing a way for healthy people to continuously monitor their health in a comprehensive way so that they can detect any aberration, anything that starts to go wrong,” Johnston says.
Stephen Johnston, PhD
Center for Innovations in Medicine