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"Glycobiomarker": Rapidly Assessing the Progression of Hepatitis

Photo of “Glycobiomarker”: Rapidly Assessing the Progression of Hepatitis

Viral hepatitis can cause cirrhosis and hepatoma if it progresses. AIST has developed a technology for rapid diagnosis of hepatic fibrosis associated with the progression of hepatitis using a glycobiomarker. This technology realized prompt measurement of the extent of hepatic fibrosis simply by blood testing, without hospitalizing the patients, and getting the results within 20 min.

Viral hepatitis is the most widespread infectious disease in Japan, with approximately 3 million people infected nationwide. Without appropriate treatment, the disease can progress to hepatoma. To date, biopsy, in which liver tissues are collected, has been the gold standard for measuring the extent of hepatic fibrosis, but such tests place a large economic and physical burden on patients.

Glycans have complex structures and are thus difficult to analyze, and their roles and functions had not been clarified very well. AIST analyzed the structure of glycans and applied the knowledge to identify and verify glycobiomarkers. Through a joint research with a commercial company, a diagnostic agent for rapid, automatic measurement was developed using lectins having a high correlation with the progression of hepatic fibrosis, which enabled specific capture of a glycoprotein that has a surface glycan with an altered structure due to hepatic fibrosis. The extent of hepatic fibrosis can be measured quickly and simply by a blood test at a clinical laboratory in a medical institution. This is the world's first practical application of a technology for hepatic fibrosis diagnosis using a glycobiomarker.

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