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Open Access Research article

Optimization of a high-throughput whole blood expression profiling methodology and its application to assess the pharmacodynamics of interferon (IFN) beta-1a or polyethylene glycol-conjugated IFN beta-1a in healthy clinical trial subjects

Normand E Allaire12*, Steven E Bushnell1, Jadwiga Bienkowska1, Graham Brock1 and John Carulli1

Author Affiliations

1 Biogen Idec Inc., Genetics and Genomics Group, 14 Cambridge Center, Cambridge, MA 02142, USA

2 Biogen Idec Inc., Translational Medicine Department, 14 Cambridge Center, Cambridge, MA 02142, USA

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BMC Research Notes 2013, 6:8  doi:10.1186/1756-0500-6-8

Published: 5 January 2013

Abstract

Background

Clinical trials offer a unique opportunity to study human disease and response to therapy in a highly controlled setting. The application of high-throughput expression profiling to peripheral blood from clinical trial subjects could facilitate the identification of transcripts that function as prognostic or diagnostic markers of disease or treatment. The paramount issue for these methods is the ability to produce robust, reproducible, and timely mRNA expression profiles from peripheral blood. Single-stranded complementary DNA (sscDNA) targets derived from whole blood exhibit improved detection of transcripts and reduced variance as compared to their complementary RNA counterparts and therefore provide a better option for interrogation of peripheral blood on oligonucleotide arrays. High-throughput microarray technologies such as the high-throughput plate array platform offer several advantages compared with slide- or cartridge-based arrays; however, manufacturer’s protocols do not support the use of sscDNA targets.

Results

We have developed a highly reproducible, high-through put, whole blood expression profiling methodology based on sscDNA and used it to analyze human brain reference RNA and universal human reference RNA samples to identify experimental conditions that most highly correlated with a gold standard quantitative polymerase chain reaction reference dataset. We then utilized the optimized method to analyze whole blood samples from healthy clinical trial subjects treated with different versions of interferon (IFN) beta-1a. Analysis of whole blood samples before and after treatment with intramuscular [IM] IFN beta-1a or polyethylene glycol-conjugated IFN (PEG-IFN) beta-1a under optimized experimental conditions demonstrated that PEG-IFN beta-1a induced a more sustained and prolonged pharmacodynamic response than unmodified IM IFN beta-1a. These results provide validation of the utility of this new methodology and suggest the potential therapeutic benefit of a sustained pharmacodynamic response to PEG-IFN beta-1a.

Conclusions

This novel microarray methodology is ideally suited for utilization in large clinical studies to identify expressed transcripts for the elucidation of disease mechanisms of action and as prognostic, diagnostic, or toxicity markers.