A blood test to diagnose western red-cedar asthma

Western red-cedar asthma (WRCA) is the most common form of occupational asthma in British Columbia and is caused by sensitivity to a molecule found in the wood called plicatic acid (PA). Patients suspected of having WRCA must complete two inhalational challenges to determine sensitivity to PA, an expensive and time-consuming process. There is need for a cheaper and quicker method of diagnosis. Blood is relatively easy to access and useful in studying WRCA. Changes were observed in the blood-based molecular biomarkers in WRCA patients during inhalational challenges.

Molecular signatures and predictive biomarkers for phenotyping allergic rhinitis responses

Allergic rhinitis (AR) is in inflammatory disease characterized by nasal symptoms. It affects 20-25% of Canadians and is recognized as the most common allergic disorder worldwide. Patients can experience one of several types of responses to allergen onset hence a key hurdle to developing effective treatment plans is accurate diagnosis. The allergic responses are characterized by an early response, with a subsequent late response in a subgroup of patients. Based on severity of nasal symptoms, patients can be stratified as early responders, protracted early responders or dual responders.

Identification of blood-based biomarkers predictive of pulmonary exacerbations in cystic fibrosis

Individuals with cystic fibrosis experience recurrent episodes of worsen in respiratory symptoms, termed pulmonary exacerbations (PEx). Early identification of individuals who are at elevated risk of PEx can improve their clinical outcomes and rescue their lung function. In this project, we will collaborate with the Prevention of Organ Failure Centre of Excellence (PROOF) to develop a simple blood test to predict the PEx in CF individuals. We will also evaluate the genetic influence on blood biomarker candidates during the project and refine the blood test based on these genetic variants.

Development and validation of blood-based biomarkers for improved heart failure management

Chronic heart failure (HF) is an epidemic affecting approximately 1.5-2% of Canada’s population (12% in patients over 80yrs) and the current one-year mortality rate after HF diagnosis remains disturbingly high at 25-40%. Even with treatment, many HF patients require hospitalizations during the course of their disease; in Canada HF is responsible for $3 billion in hospital costs annually.

Deconvolution of Whole Blood Transcriptome based on mRNA-Seq data

Gene expression in blood is highly affected by the type and proportion blood cells. Therefore, cell composition needs to be taken into account when looking for signatures specific to a condition. The issue is that cell composition needs to be assessed on fresh blood, i.e. at time of blood collection. If this has not been done, the only way one can assess is by predicting it using a methodology suggested in this proposal. Therefore, if blood cell count is not available, the cell composition can be inferred from existing next generation sequencing data sets.