Gene signatures linked to spinal cord injury severity: 6 things to know

Written by Shayna Korol | October 09, 2018 | Print  |

Vancouver, Canada-based University of British Columbia researchers identified gene signatures that predict spinal cord injury severity in an eLife study.

Here are six things to know:

1. Researchers reviewed more than 500 past studies to identify genes associated with the response to SCI. Study authors found 695 unique human genes linked to SCI response, with 151 linked in more than one study.

2. Study authors constructed a network of genes from healthy human spinal cords. They integrated data derived from the network with data taken from the previous experimental studies they reviewed. Researchers found the M3 and M7 gene groups are important in SCI response.

3. The research team then looked at five experimental studies of gene expression in mice and rats after SCIs, finding that at least four gene groups, including M3 and M7, were switched on and two other gene groups were switched off.

4. Researchers the M3 genes as the group most strongly linked to injury severity in the rodents, suggesting they may be the ideal biomarker to predict SCI severity.

5. When used as a biomarker, the M3 group gene annexin A1 was able to perfectly differentiate between moderately and severely injured rats.

6. According to lead author Jordan Squair, an MD and PhD student at University of British Columbia, "We have identified gene signatures that predict injury severity and, if reversed therapeutically, could potentially increase functional recovery."

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